5 German New Year Traditions You Gotta Try!

German New Year Traditions

Written by Rachel Gyarmati

New Year’s Eve is exceptionally whimsical because it allows us to dream of what’s to come. We’re presented with a clean slate for the upcoming year and stay up to meet it. There are several ways to ring in the new year.

We love to watch the crowds gather in Times Square on television and count down as the ball drops here in the United States. Of course, there is also the tradition of a friendly kiss at midnight and eating dishes like sauerkraut or black-eyed peas.

In Germany, the traditions are similar to ours. They focus on fellowship and rituals that bring hope. Keep reading to learn about five German traditions that we think you’ll love to try. After you’re done reading, don’t forget to stop in to have a side of sauerkraut for good luck!

1. Don’t Be Fishy!

December 31st is not only the last day of the calendar year. It’s also when the Saint Sylvester feast is held. The former Pope died on December 31st, 335, so the date was picked to observe him. Pope Sylvester the I was seen as a healer and is believed to have converted Constantine the Great to Christianity.

Must-haves for a true Saint Sylvester feast are lentils and sliced sausages. These signify both excellent luck and richness of life for the new year. Sausages are cut into slices, so they look like coins, which symbolize wealth.

Besides lentils and sausages, the rest of the menu is up to the host. Sauerkraut, schnitzel, etc., are also typical staples of this meal.

Something you won’t see at the feast is fish. It is a widespread belief that the nonbelievers present with Saint Sylvester the day he died choked on fish bones. This lore has made its way into the logistics of the celebration.

If you’re feeling fishy while cooking your Saint Sylvester feast, an exception may be granted for carp. Germans believe that carp is good luck and will often keep a carp scale in their wallet. The carp scale is considered to bring wealth and prosperity.

German New Year lucky charms

2. Lucky Charms

One of the most adorable traditions we’ve heard of is giving out lucky charms to loved ones. But, of course, these aren’t the type you find in the cereal aisle. Instead, they’re often small figurines shaped like mushrooms, pigs, and birds. More traditional luck symbols, like horseshoes and four-leaf clovers, are also popular gifts.

The tiny charms can be handmade or store-bought. They can also be made of salt dough, marzipan, plastic, and other materials. However, it should be made very clear that the charms are not magically delicious or part of a balanced breakfast.

The trinkets are given out starting New Year’s Day and are meant to bring the recipient luck all year long.

German New Year sledding

3. Sledding

It is common to see families in Germany sledding during new year celebrations. Sledding may not seem culturally significant, and perhaps it’s not. However, it is a great way to get outside and include all ages.

Winters in Germany can be harsh, with temperatures often reaching below zero. There is also snow, rain, and ice which guarantees a “guten rusch,” or good slide.

Living in the United States in Winter doesn’t guarantee that you’ll have snow or even that the weather will be cold. However, this blogger hopes that the German love of sledding with family in the new year inspires you to find a fun family activity to try.

4. Dinner for One

If outdoor recreation isn’t your thing, how about a movie night? In 1963, a German television station aired Dinner for One as a time filler on New Year’s Eve.

The black and white film focuses on an English Aristocrat celebrating her 90th birthday. She dines with a group of old friends throughout the night and has in-depth conversations with them. At the end of the movie *spoiler alert*, it’s revealed that the guests are dead, and she’s been speaking with their spirits.

Over time the show has gained popularity and is now a beloved tradition on New Year’s Eve. It’s a bittersweet movie with a heartwarming yet sad tone. It’s a true cult classic, and after watching it, one can see why.

Dinner for One is a great reminder to make your time count and cherish those around you.

5. Sekt at Midnight

Prosit Neujahr is German for Happy New YearOne pretty international tradition is sekt (or champagne) at midnight. Of course, toasting a new year is nothing new, but there is something magical about sharing a sweet sparkly drink with loved ones.

What makes this tradition German is the toast.

“Prosit Neujahr” is German for “Happy New Year!”.

Two fun facts about the traditional midnight champagne or sekt toast:

  1. The word prosit in Latin translates to “may it succeed.”
  2. Sekt (champagne) is available to enjoy at Hofbräuhaus for your new year celebration.

New Year, New Memories

However you plan to bring in 2022, we hope that you’ll stop in at Our Haus to have a bite to eat and make new memories. Might we suggest our monthly keg tappings with live music and a small parade around the bier hall?

January’s bier is the Schwarzbier, and it is epic. The sweet bier is made with caramel and chocolate malts that give an out-of-this-world flavor that pairs well with just about anything on our menu.

Speaking of enjoying bier, did you know that we can host you and up to 300 of your closest friends at Our Haus? We, of course, need to know in advance, but we would love to have you.

We would love to help you plan a get-together that is sure to leave you with lots of great memories. We even offer the option of a fully-customizable bar.

Whatever you do in 2022, we wish you a happy and healthy new year. We’ll have the pretzels and bier cheese waiting!