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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture File: Germany series at GermanPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring essential information about Germany, German culture and German people. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 15 - German New Year's Eve.
Anybody who has ever spent a traditional New Year's Eve in Germany knows that you can't get through the night without doing two things; eating Pfannkuchen, the Berlinian word for jelly donuts, and pouring lead, or Blei, to predict the future. While eating jelly donuts is pretty straight-forward, pouring lead to predict the future can be tricky to get a handle on. In German, “to predict” is vorhersagen.
Theoretically, all you have to do is take a small piece of lead, or Blei, melt it on a spoon over a candle, then pour it into cold water and predict the events of the coming year based on the resulting shapes. The Romans made use of this oracle custom in the past to predict the outcome of wars and the duration of a reign.
While it is quite easy nowadays to find fortune telling kits that have pieces of lead already formed in the shapes of lucky charm pigs, clovers, or horse-shoes, in German called Hufeisen, the actual melting of the lead is considerably more difficult. The lead on your spoon will always stubbornly refuse to melt. After 5 minutes you may get some slight cramps, or Krampf, in your arm, and after 10 minutes you might decide to try your luck with the small amount of molten lead on your spoon. Full of hope, you can pour your lead into cold water and wait to see what it predicts for you.
If you are able to recognize a clover in the shape the lead makes, it means that you have luck and happiness coming your way. If you think the shape looks more like a flower, that means you will make new friends the following year.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Do you have any interesting customs in your country during the New Year?
Leave a comment telling us at GermanPod101.com! Until next time!

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Do you have any interesting customs in your country during the New Year?