I spent this new year staying with my brother and sister in law in Saarbrucken, a university city in the south of Germany. We were promised a thoroughly German New Year experience and it didn't disappoint! Even without the revelry of the 31st of December it was lovely to be in a cold, snowy country at Christmas time, surrounded by family, good food and even better beer! New Year in Germany kicks off with the viewing of a little film called Dinner for One. About 15 minutes long, in black and white and so completely English - it was a most surprising custom. Apparently Germans all know the phrase “same procedure as last year ma'am” as a result of watching this each and every New Year. Then it was time for some Fire Punch! A metal bowl is placed over a candle to keep it warm and filled with a red wine-based punch. Then a little metal shelf is placed over the bowl and a giant sugar lump is placed on the shelf and dowsed in rum. Once it's fully soaked it's set on fire and as the rum burns the sugar caramelises and drips in fiery drips down into the punch - yum! Making fire punch.
After this we were treated to a bit of 'lead pouring'. We were each given a little lead lucky charm, which we melted in a little crucible spoon before pouring into cold water. We then had to decipher what our little bit of lead had turned into and hope it was mentioned in the list of fortunes on the back of the packet - our fortune for the new year was then revealed to us (mine looked like a tic which didn't seem to be mentioned in the fortune guide!) Next it was time to head into town and see what was happening (baby sitter all sorted!). On the way there were a few kids setting off fireworks, but as we got closer and closer to the centre there were throngs of people of all ages all setting off fireworks. We joined the crowds (me more than a little bit scared - I really need my eyes for my work!) and as midnight struck I have never seen anything like it - fireworks exploding absolutely everywhere and not a policeman, steward, marshal or ambulance in sight, just a wicked cacophony of bangers and rockets and a sea of smoke. My sister in law and I agreed it was like being in a riot! Watch some of the fireworks action here Saarbrucken New Year fireworks.
No one was hurt and we made our way slowly home through the New Years debris - I wonder how long these traditions will last? I'm very glad I took part in them and very glad I still have both my eyes and all my limbs!