Happy 2016! I’m back from an amazing and unforgettable whirlwind Christmas & New Year holiday with Sean and fam and have so many amazing pictures I want to share. Now that I have quality internet again, I’ll get back to it. Admittedly the pics on this post aren’t that great; I don’t have a tripod and am not that great with night shots. Though for years, my dad had two photos that I took of fireworks at the 4th of July Celebration at Yorktown hanging in his office, so I have a history of magnificent firework photos actually. Anyway, you get the idea.
This week I’ve started taking a daily 4.5 hour German language class and it’s mixing things up here! Getting settled in for what feels like a”new semester” as an official resident of Bonn has me feeling extremely energized and motivated. I feel great. I’m sorting through all of my photos in between learning German, but since I’m wishing everyone a Happy New Year, I should hurry up and share a bit of our NYE fun. Our New Year’s Eve was fantastisch! **Aka one of my favorite German words ever. Say it with me: Fantastisch!**
First a history lesson! (yay!) New Year’s Eve is a pretty big night around here, full of parties, dances, fireworks, galas and loud people taking over the streets. Of course this is much like in the U.S. but many of the Germanic and Catholic countries around Europe call it Silvester night, for Pope Sylvester I’s feast day observed on the 31st of December. There are variations on the spelling and traditions from country to country, as well as an Israeli celebration of it, but I’m just touching on the basics.
Pope Sylvester I, according to legend, is the man who baptized and healed the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great from leprosy so they celebrate. Many of the traditions of Silvester night date back to the days of Germanic tribes celebrating a twelve day period around the Winter solstice where they had to drive away evil spirits in various ways. Making noise is key now and it was then: the ruckus of fireworks, firecrackers, drums, whip-cracking and banging kitchen utensils has been driving away evil winter spirits since the days of the Germanic Teutons. (Luckily, I didn’t see anyone with kitchen utensils or whips).
It is also tradition is to watch the 1963 TV recording of the British comedy sketch Dinner for one. Since 1972, the program holds the Guinness record for being the most frequently repeated TV show in history. This is on my list to watch for sure. (Source: thelocal.de)
Finally, a really cute little tradition is to give your friends and loved ones good luck tokens for the new year: little pigs, clovers, lady bugs, chimneys and chimney sweeps, horseshoes. They range in form from ceramics, plastic, pictures, clothes, piggy banks, glass, marzipan…etc, etc, etc. Andrew got us all little ceramic good luck pigs or Schwein! If you’re interested, you can read about the meaning behind these good luck symbols here. Oh and don’t forget wearing red underwear to ensure a good love life for the next year. 😉
We started our NYE in Salzburg off with a lovely meal at our favorite Italian place. We ate there a few times actually and made friends with the chef and staff – all three of them – but more on them later.
After dinner, we headed to the river to ring in 2016 and ward off evil spirits. We really were there to see the city’s official fireworks, but quickly discovered crowds of people setting off their own fireworks on the river banks. It’s not illegal to have legit fireworks over here the way it is in the U.S. People were lined up on either side of the river just lighting up the sky. These weren’t just firecrackers, and sparklers, I’m talking huge “rockets” in the sky, if they were set off right that is. Someone in front of us lit a dud that shot backward, rather than into the river. Don’t worry mom, we were a least 10 feet or so away from this near disaster. 😉 Oh and there were lasers too.
After the magnificent lights in the sky, Sean, Andrew and I wandered to the Town square next to the Cathedral to see what was going on. I read that it’s a tradition in Austria to waltz in the streets after midnight on Silvester night. I was hoping to find a grand square of joyful waltzing revelers, but instead we found a cover band, and food stands set up selling good luck tokens, food and drinks. I did see ONE father and son waltzing, so that made me happy. Next year…THERE WILL BE WALTZING.
The band was playing a bunch of Bruno Mars, then going into random songs ranging from Sweet Home Alabama to Wannabe (Spice Girls!!). Next up they started into some TV Show Theme Songs including The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and How I Met Your Mother‘s themes…so funny. But really, how better to ring in the new year than by singing West Philadelphia Born and Raised… I got us singing along to that one on video and will cherish it for years to come. My kids will think I’m so cool, right?
We had an early morning so we headed back to the hotel after listening to the band, grabbing a gluhwein, unintentionally watching a belligerent man get arrested, and observing some hilarious dancing ladies on their way out. As I Would Walk 500 miles was playing a group of 5 middle aged AWESOME ladies made their exit from the craziness with some amazing dance moves. Well more like some Austrian boot scootin’ boogie moves really, but they were my fav.
Happy New Year and as they say in Germany Frohes neues Jahr and Alles gute für das neue Jahr!