Friday, January 9, 2009

Happy New Years!

Okay, so I know I'm a little late. You know me, queen of procrastination. But between having a very tiring few days around New Years, and this week being the coldest in Leipzig in who knows how long (-6F, -21C). I've been feeling a little sluggish. However, on with the comparisons!

I spent the week around New Years at a Young Single Adult conference that my church put on In Hamburg. Apparently, this is the thing for young LDS people to do. Because I started hearing about it in October. It was a fairly impressive though, people from all over Germany came... I think there were a few from Austria and Switzerland too. I even met another American, and someone from England, but they were residing in Germany like me.

The first major difference I discovered, is that no one calls it New Years (or Neue Jahre auf Deutsch.) The whole time around New Years is referred to as "Silvester". Which came from a Pope that died on New Years Eve.
The next thing I noticed that was truly different, was the fireworks. Most people have seen video of the Fireworks over the Brandenburg gate. However their celebrations are not just in the large cities like in the US. Every city has a fabulous fireworks display. Everyone went outside for midnight, and I assumed it was just so we could light sparklers and a few small fire crackers people had bought, but a few seconds before midnight fireworks started going off in every direction. Not the small scale do it yourself displays you see, but full blown 4th of July displays. All my friends were laughing watching me spin in circles trying to watch about 4 different directions at the same time. I tried to explain the awesomeness of watching a large illuminated glass ball fall, but I guess it lost something in translation because no one seemed particularly impressed by our good ol' American celebrations.
The last difference I'll mention is what people say. Firstly Germans have 2 different things to say, one before New Years, and one after. Before the new year you would wish someone "Einen Guten Rutsch" which literaly translates to "A good slide". I always add a "into the new year" because it's nicer for my still mostly English brain. At midnight people mostly say "happy new year" or "good luck in the new year" but it's also common to wish someone a "Healthy new year" which I thought just sounded quaint!

So I hope everyone has a happy, healthy, lucky year!