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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Germany Series at GermanPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind German holidays and observances. I’m Matt, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 8 - New Year's Eve.
In this lesson, we will discuss how people spend New Year's Eve in Germany. Silvester is the German word for the last day of the year, in other words, December 31. The name "Silvester" dates back to Pope Silvester I, who died in Rome on the last day of the year – the 355th day.
Now, before we get into more detail, I've got a question for you-
What purpose did fireworks in Germany serve originally?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later, so keep listening!
On December 31, shops are open till 2 pm. Those with jobs need to work, while others finish their shopping before noon for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, known as Neujahr, for the following celebrations. Some pass the time with parlor games and in the evening, they eat raclette or fondue together.
In the last days of the year, people wish each other a "good start for the New Year" which is known as Guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr, and literally translates to “a good Head-Start into the new year.” At big public places such as the Brandenburg Gate or Brandenburger Tor in Berlin, many people celebrate the change of the year together. Church bells ring on New Year at midnight, and many people watch New Years Eve fireworks, which are called Neujahrsfeuerwerk. Others set off fireworks themselves, including rockets or firecrackers, or welcome the New Year with sparklers.
At midnight, most people clink glasses filled with champagne and wish each other a "Happy New Year" or Frohes neues Jahr in German. Some dress up and go to a New Year's party and celebrate in high spirits until the early morning. Others celebrate quietly at home or watch the British comedy sketch Dinner for One on television, which has traditionally been broadcast since 1963.
On Silvester afternoon, people entertain themselves with the old fortune-telling custom of lead-pouring; to get one's horoscope for the new year, lead is melted with a candle and poured into cold water. The lead hardens into a shape that is interpreted to have a certain meaning.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
What purpose did fireworks in Germany serve originally?
The old Germans, who lived in the fourth and sixth century BC, expelled evil spirits with fire and noise. This tradition is a forerunner to today's Silvester fireworks displays.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
How do you celebrate New Year's Eve in your country?
Leave a comment telling us at GermanPod101.com. Until next time!

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How do you celebrate New Year’s Eve in your country?