Tuesday 30 December 2014

in der silvester-nacht

Though not to be characterised as weird or foreign and not exclusive to Austria, the country’s edition of the English daily, the Local, present a nifty summary of some of the ways Austrians ring in the New Year. Special credit, I believe, is due for not shying away from terms like agora- and ochlophobia (the latter being specifically the fear of crowds and not just being exposed and out in the open, fear of the Marktplatz) and molybdomancy (BleigieรŸen)—that is, divination by molten lead quickly cooled in water, complete with a description of the fun and an exhaustive Rorschach list of interpretations.

There are also some delicious recipes and more on merry-making. New Year’s Eve is goes by the name of Silvester for the sainted pope who baptised the Roman emperor Constantine and legitimised Christianity within the Empire, whose holy day is commemorated on the last day of the year and is combined with traditional celebrations and customs in Central Europe, like the countdown and fireworks. What are some peculiar traditions and rituals of your own? There’s still time to go out and augur your fortune with some ingots, a candle and spoon.  In der Silvester-Nacht wird das Blei zum schmelzen gebracht.