Silvester – Happy New Year in Austrian style

That’s New Year’s to us English speaking people. The name comes from the fourth century Pope Sylvestor the first. Eventually made a saint by the Catholic Church, his feast day is observed on December 31.Anyway, enough of the history… onto the good part!

Enjoying our massive Raclette

The important thing is that it’s New Year’s Eve and it comes with all the fun that you’re used to. We went to a friend’s place for raclette, drinks and games. It was a fun night, eating a lengthy raclette meal with plenty of wine and garlic sauce. Onto the games and we played Activity (a version of Cranium which involves both drawing pictures and acting out words). Turns out it doesn’t really work when you try and cross German/English.

Daddy longlegs spider
They have them here too

Take for example the spider, Daddy Longlegs. The German word is: Weberknecht. If, after drawing a basic spider, people couldn’t work it out, in English, I would revert to splitting the word in two, drawing a ‘Dad’ followed by someone with ‘long legs’. However, Weberknecht is not a literal translation of ‘Dad Longlegs from English. I guess the literal translation would be: Vater (Father) Lange Beine (long legs). See, completely different!

But it was fun anyway, especially when I took to the stage and nobody had any idea what I was doing.

I don't remember what I was trying to do either!
I don’t remember what I was trying to do either!

At midnight there is the standard countdown and you can hear crackers going off all around. Fireworks are not illegal here, you can buy them from every grocery store. So outside there’s a spectacular display of fireworks through the town and over the mountains (if there’s no fog). And unlike in Australia, you don’t have to worry about starting a bushfire at this time of year!


And at midnight here there’s also something different… they waltz into the New Year. It’s strange but it’s kind of fun, everyone switching partners and wishing each other a Happy New Year. People also exchange small gifts at this point. And then of course the partying continues… until the wee hours if you’re a true Austrian (read… I am not). Pretty sure Thomas’ parents were up till 4 or 5 in the morning… I was in bed by 2 😦 Better luck next year!

Happy New Year!
Happy New Year!

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