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Clink glasses, watch the spectacular city-wide fireworks, and don’t forget to bring your lucky charms with you (yes, even Germans are superstitious).
Berlin loves to party, so it’s no wonder that the city celebrates the end of the year with a spectacular level of wild abandon. Silvester, as New Year’s Eve is known here, culminates with an explosive display of pyrotechnics and all sorts of feasting and revelry. Should you find yourself in the Hauptstadt on December 31st, here’s how to toast the New Year like a Berliner.
Plenty of cities around the world boast fireworks displays, but few can equal Berlin’s for sheer, exuberant madness. For one night only, the entire city lights up as Berliners set off thousands upon thousands of rockets, fountains, Roman candles and firecrackers in the streets. The resulting pandemonium is bewildering to outsiders,but an exhilirating experience.
One of Germany’s lesser-known but thoroughly beloved New Year’s Eve traditions is the ceremonial giving of marzipan porkers or Glücksschwein(lucky pig). In German, the phrase “Schwein gehabt” means to have gotten lucky and locals believe that this adorable little confection brings good fortune. Whether or not you believe it, it’s certainly a sweet sentiment.
Because Berlin pretty much turns to techno for all sorts of occasions, the city’s clubs are going full-throttle all night long and well into the following afternoon. Those hoping to squeak into Berghain and the other heavy-hitters should be sure to order tickets well in advance and be prepared to queue for several hours.
When the clock strikes midnight, Berliners clink Champagne flutes and say the traditional toast, “Prost Neujahr!” If you’re hoping to blend in, try saying to the person next to you, “Guten Rutsch!” Linguists and historians still debate where the phrase came from, but by now it’s become all but synonymous with the holiday.
Everyone wants to know what lies in store for the coming year and Germans have a particularly curious party trick for finding out. Bleigiessen is the practice of melting a small piece of lead into a glass of water and interpreting the shape in which it solidifies. Although it may not be a fool proof means of soothsaying, it’s always a good conversation-starter.
As bizarre as it might seem, a time-honoured German New Year’s Eve tradition in a viewing of the 1963 British comedy Dinner for One. The dialogue is in English, but the film’s goofy, slapstick humour translates into any language and many Berliners still gather round once a year to laugh at the goofy antics.