German Language Blog

Thank you! Please check your inbox for your confirmation email.
You must click the link in the email to verify your request.

Silvester – New Year’s Eve Posted by on Dec 31, 2010 in Culture, Current Events, Traditions

The countdown is running. There are only a few hours left till the old year is over. With this last post for this year I would like to give you an insight into how Germans Silvester feiern(see the New Year in) and what you can say to wish someone a Happy New Year.

There are different ways how to wish someone A Happy New Year in German. The most common Neujahrsgrüße (New Year’s greetings) are:

Ein gesundes, neues Jahr. (lit. A healthy new Year)

Ein frohes, neues Jahr.

Both are the equivalent to A Happy New Year.

Moreover, you can very often hear Germans saying: „Guten Rutsch“. The origin of this greeting is not clear. Consequently, it is difficult for me to translate it. However, there are two explanation attempts. The German verb „rutschen“ means „to slide“ and it was used from 1800 in the sense  of „reisen“ which means „to travel“, thus, with this greeting you wish someone „a good journey into the new year“. Another explanation is that this expression is derived from the Hebrew expression „Rosch ha schana“, which means „a good head (beginning) of the new year“. No matter which of these explanations is correct, when you wish someone „Einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr“ or just „Guten Rutsch“ it means that you wish that the addressee will have a good start in the upcoming year.

When Germans see the New Year in they will set off a lot of fireworks. It is estimated that Germans will spend about 110 million Euros for Feuerwerksraketen (firework rockets) and Böller (firecrackers) this year. Although I am German, I have never spend any money for fireworks because I am a bit afraid of it. I prefer watching fireworks rather than letting them off. The only Feuerwerkskörper (pyrothenic article) I will light are Wunderkerzen (sparklers). 😀

A Typical German New Year tradition is Bleigießen (lead pouring). You put a small piece of lead on a spoon and hold it over a candle. When the lead is molten you pour it into a bowl filled with water. The lead will shape into a particular form, which is supposed to predict what will happen to you in the upcoming year. For example, a ball means luck all through the year and an anchor means eventual need of help.

Another odd German New Year tradition is the British TV show „Dinner for One“, which is aired every year since 1972. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you why this is so. It is just so popular. I do not want to break with this tradition, so here you can watch the original show. Enjoy. EINEN GUTEN RUTSCH UND EIN GESUNDES NEUES JAHR! 🙂

Tags: , , ,
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Sandra Rösner

Hello everybody! I studied English and American Studies, Communication Science, and Political Science at the University of Greifswald. Since I have been learning English as a second language myself for almost 20 years now I know how difficult it is to learn a language other than your native one. Thus, I am always willing to keep my explanations about German grammar comprehensible and short. Further, I am inclined to encourage you to speak German in every situation. Regards, Sandra


  1. Krystale:


  2. G:

    Thanks- my father-in-law told me this today (it was in his pastor’s sermon) and I was very surprised. I’m Jewish, so it was sweet to have him relating to me through this- and yours was the first related post that came up when I looked around for verification.
    Einen Guten Rutsch ins 2011 (we are watching the folks in the street with their fireworks right now:)).