New Year's Eve

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As a New Year's Eve (regional and Altjahrstag or Altjahrestag ) is in some European languages of the 31 December , the last day of the year in the Gregorian calendar called. According to the saints calendar of the Roman Catholic Church , this is the day of remembrance of Pope St Silvester I. New Years Eve follows on New Years Eve .

New Year's Eve 2010 in Berlin


Reliquary of Pope New Year I in Zadar

The year-end festival was already celebrated in the Roman Empire , for the first time at the beginning of 153 BC. When the beginning of the year was postponed from March 1st to January 1st. The custom of starting the year over after the tenth month was Roman. The months for Gaius Julius Caesar - July - and Augustus - August - were introduced later. The fire festivals at the turn of the year go back to the Germanic peoples. The association of the end of the year with the name Silvester (dt. Forest man, from Latin silva forest) goes back to the year 1582. At that time, the Gregorian calendar reform moved the last day of the year from December 24th to December 31st, the anniversary of the death of New Year's Eve I († December 31, 335). The liturgical calendar carries the day for 813 as his name day .

In some parts of Germany the day is, as a kind of counterpart to the following New Year's Day , also Altjahr , Altjahrsabend or "the old year" in Austria (in some regions) as well as in Croatia also Altjahrstag , in Croatia as well as in Slovenia as an exception also Silvestrovo (, New Year's Day '). Also in Dutch it is mostly called Oudejaarsavond , and only alternatively also New Year's Eve. : In Spanish Nochevieja (literally old night :) and in Danish, Swedish, Portuguese one as in English from New Year's (pre-) evening talks New Year's Eve, Nytårsaften, Nyårsafton, Vespera de Ano-Novo . December 31st is called New Year's Eve in the following languages: Italian Notte di San Silvestro , French Réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre , Polish Sylwester , Czech Silvestrovské oslavy , German Silvester . According to official German spelling, there is only the spelling New Year's Eve with "i" for the last day of the year , unlike the first name Sylvester / New Year's Eve .

New year and geography

The turn of the year begins on January 1st at 12:00 a.m. on the date line , which runs north to south through the Pacific Ocean near the 180th degree of longitude . According to local time , the turn of the year would occur every second to the west, but in fact all places on earth are assigned to a time zone . This only does not apply to the poles ( north and south poles ), as they cannot be assigned to any time zone. In principle, the new year begins there like on the date line. Due to the fact that the Caroline Atoll ( Line Islands / Kiribati ) has been in the UTC + 14 time zone since 1995, the turn of the year takes place there first, namely on December 31st at 11:00 am Central European Time . After that, the turn of the year runs through all 24 time zones every hour (and special zones that differ slightly). The Howland Island in the time zone UTC-12 in the Pacific, just before the International Date Line, is the territory, which last reached the turn of the year, even though the Howland Island lies west of Kiribati.

Celebration and customs

New Year's Eve fireworks in Höchst
New Year's Eve in Urnäsch (2013)

In German-speaking countries, New Year's Eve is greeted with a Happy New Year . New Year's Eve is often celebrated in company. At the turn of the year at midnight, it is usually celebrated with fireworks and bells. In the pre-Christian animistic beliefs, the fireworks were supposed to drive away “bad spirits ” in the past , but today they also express anticipation for the New Year. In private New Year's Eve celebrations are Bleigießen (or more recently, tin or wax casting) and opening a bottle of champagne widespread of the year. The churches offer nightly services.

In the town of Schiltach in the Black Forest, there is a centuries-old, originally ecclesiastical and unique custom of the New Year's Eve procession .

In the Swiss canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden on December 31 and January 13 ( old New Year's Eve ) the New Year's Eve will come . If December 31st or January 13th falls on a Sunday, the New Year's Eve will take place on Saturday. The New Year's Eve is probably the most impressive winter custom in the Appenzellerland. The Chläuse are divided into three types: the "Wüeschte", the "Schöne" and the "Schöwüeschte" or natural lice. They occur almost exclusively in "Schuppel" (groups). As early as the first dawn on New Year's Eve, many of the Chlausschuppel are out and about in the vicinity of the parishes to “chat” and “tease” with friends. A unique spectacle is offered to the spectators when the Chlausen groups move into the villages. Usually you can hear them with their bells from afar.

In the so-called New Year's Eve runs , thousands of people take part in fun runs - often for a donation bonus. The world's largest New Year's Eve run, San Silvestre Vallecana, takes place in the Spanish capital, Madrid, with over 20,000 participants, while the largest German run, the New Year’s Eve run from Werl to Soest , takes place on a 15 km long section of federal highway 1. For almost 25 years, over 7,900 runners of all ages have been participating in a charitable cause. The Corrida Internacional de São Silvestre , the oldest and second largest run of its kind in the world, starts every year in the Brazilian city of São Paulo with 13,000 participants.

For more New Year customs, see New Year Celebrations .


Of good powers ( Dietrich Bonhoeffer , 1944/45)

The church year does not end on New Year's Eve, but before Vespers on the eve of the 1st Sunday in Advent . The Christmas festival circle ends after New Year's Eve with the week of the "last Sunday after Epiphany " (Epiphany is on January 6th, "Apparition of the Lord", Protestant) or on the feast of Jesus' baptism on the first Sunday of the annual cycle, which is the first Sunday after Epiphany is (Catholic). New Year's Eve is originally a day of remembrance for the saints (for Pope New Year's Eve ) and not a church holiday at the turn of the year. Nevertheless, New Year's Eve is also celebrated in church in many places, because: "It is irrevocable that the beginning and end of the civil year also make a greater impression on the parish than those of the church year." ( J. Smend )

New Year's Eve church services and year-end devotions in the afternoon, in the evening or at night provide space for the thematization of transience and a new beginning, wishes, thanks and requests; they are often musical or meditative. According to Friedrich Kalb , they are said to have taken place from 1776, and according to Andreas Strauch to have found legal recognition from 1836. In evangelical church services, the sermon of the old year's evenings is often interpreted as the annual slogan and the focus is on the motto passing time, for example with the song of good powers, faithfully and quietly surrounded .

In the Catholic liturgy, mass celebrations are planned on the evening of New Year's Eve, masses before the octave of Christmas, the solemn feast of Mary, the Mother of God, on January 1st. The turn of the year is usually mentioned in thanks or interceding, for example by singing the Te Deum .


Bells ringing in Haynrode , 1954
New Year's Eve 1951; Photo by the GDR news agency ADN with New Year's Eve elements: alcoholic drink (sparkling wine), streamers, lanterns, confetti, symbols of good luck (four-leaf clover)
Lucky charm: Lucky clover with chimney sweep with mushroom and shamrock
Lucky charm: lucky pig and 1 cent coin (New Year 2016)
New Year's fireworks in Frankfurt am Main

In some areas of Schleswig-Holstein , Hamburg and Lower Saxony , the children dress up and running New Year's Eve Rummelpott . Before the doors of the neighborhood brings to traditional Low German Rummelpott songs like Fru mok de Dör op traditionally now very rarely used instrument Rummelpott (also Brummtopf ) - an over-stressed with a pig's bladder pot - by rubbing the cane in the middle of squawking sounds about. The children get sweets and money at the front door, and older participants sometimes also get alcoholic beverages. The origin was a Germanic custom - to drive away the spirits. The Perchten or Tresterer runs at the turn of the year in the Alpine region had the same goal - New Year's Eve is also a rough night . On the New Year's Eve procession in Schiltach , a procession of pietistic origin, God is thanked for the old year.

In the companies of the GDR there was the term “plan New Year's Eve”. The date denoted the point in time at which the specified national economic plan was reached. Then you worked for the variable year-end bonus . “Plans New Year's Eve” could already be celebrated in November. Such an early point in time was tricky - then the plans for the next year were adjusted. As a precaution, the plans were only fulfilled in the last decade of December, and “New Year's Eve” conveniently coincided with the Christmas party.

According to the law on explosives , fireworks of category F2 (corresponds in parts to the former class P-II) are generally permitted for private individuals aged 18 and over for the entire period of December 31st and January 1st. It should be noted, however, that the locally responsible authorities can issue additional restrictions and bans, such as in parts of North Frisia , where New Year's Eve fireworks (category F2) on Föhr are only allowed and on due to concern for thatched houses Sylt , on Amrum and in Sankt Peter-Ording is completely forbidden. Also, according to the Explosives Act municipalities the burning of fireworks "with exclusive bang effect" bangers such. B. China firecrackers, cannon strikes, further restrict the time. In Germany, sales are only permitted in the last three working days of the year - category F1 fireworks, the so-called year-round or miniature fireworks, colloquially also known as youth fireworks, may, however, be sold all year round to and burned by private persons aged twelve and over.

Since 1981 there have been calls from various sides to forego the fireworks and instead donate the money to a charitable cause. The “ bread instead of firecrackers ” campaign is the oldest . At the end of December 2004, because of the seaquake in the Indian Ocean, the German government called for donations to aid organizations rather than fireworks .

Many churches herald the new year at midnight. Depending on the local tradition, the bell lasts between ten minutes and an hour.

New Year's Eve on German television

In Germany , in addition to the classic Dinner for One , the New Year's Eve punch from the series Ein Herz und eine Seele has secured a permanent place in the television program for New Year's Eve. In its regional program , Norddeutsche Rundfunk mostly broadcasts the play Tratsch in the stairwell with Heidi Kabel in the lead role, which is played on New Year's Eve and on the days immediately before and after , which was broadcast once in 1962, but has only been special since a live broadcast on New Year's Eve 1966 Enjoys popularity. The recording of this performance is also the one that has aired since then. In 2016, the NDR first showed a new production recorded in the same year with Heidi Kabel's daughter Heidi Mahler in the lead role; the broadcast of the 1966 version was postponed to New Year's Day 2017.

The rest of the supporting program mostly consists of music and sketch programs as well as live shows. Since New Year's Eve 1970, the respective Federal Chancellor has given the New Years address , while the Federal President has given the Christmas address. Before that, it was the other way around.

Until 1988, the ZDF broadcast the ringing of the Berlin Freedom Bell at 12 noon as a warning to restore German unity . The New Year celebrations at the Brandenburg Gate have been broadcast since 1989 .

Public life

On New Year's Eve, buses and trains generally run the same as on Saturdays. There are also shorter opening times in the shops. A statutory closure at 2 p.m. only applies in Hesse , Bremen and Thuringia , provided that the day falls on a working day.


Pummerin, 6 min, 3 sec

The Austrian Pyrotechnics Act of 2010 prohibits in Section 38 (1) "the use of pyrotechnic objects [...] in the local area" even on New Year's Eve. In order to enable the private use of fireworks - for example on New Year's Eve - the municipality can "exempt certain parts of the local area from this ban, provided that the use of fireworks poses a risk to life, health and property of people or public safety as well as unreasonable noise nuisance are not to be feared ”. This does not apply to the area around “churches, places of worship, hospitals, children's, retirement and recreation homes as well as animal shelters and zoos” (Section 38, Paragraph 2). Only a few Austrian municipalities have issued such an ordinance, and only a fraction of the fireworkers adhere to the time frame specified therein. In the majority of municipalities, the private use of fireworks is generally forbidden even on New Year's Eve.

New Year's Eve on Austrian television

On New Year's Eve, the New Year's Eve episode of the series A real Viennese does not go under and the famous Sketch Dinner for One are traditionally shown on the public Austrian broadcaster ORF. Since 2013 a “New Year's Eve audience” has been broadcast by Wir sind Kaiser .

At 12 o'clock at night, the Pummerin , the big bell of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, rings in the New Year, broadcast on ORF, followed by the Danube Waltz . All ORF radio stations (including the alternative youth station FM4 ) also play the Danube Waltz at midnight sharp.

The live broadcast of the Vienna Philharmonic's New Year's Concert at noon - produced by ORF - is shown all over the world. Towards evening the Federal President gives his annual New Year's address. Since 1989, ORF has been broadcasting a four-hour special version of the Musikantenstadl every year together with ARD and SRF , the so-called “Silvesterstadl”.

New Year's path

Vienna New Year's Eve Trail 2011/12 in the Graben area

Since the turn of the year 1990/91, the City of Vienna has been organizing the Vienna New Year's Eve Path with other organizations . It is now the largest New Year's Eve event in Europe and, for example, was attended by around 800,000 people in 2011/2012.

Farmer's New Year's Eve on December 30th

In Styria , farmers' New Year's Eve is celebrated on December 30th . The tradition goes back to a legend. A farmer was caught in a heavy snowstorm, could no longer return to Graz on time and celebrated the day before New Year's Eve with a hermit. It is also becoming increasingly popular outside of Styria to celebrate Farmer's New Year's Eve : especially with people who are on duty on New Year's Eve.


In the Zurich Oberland , in addition to the New Year's Eve on December 31, the old New Year's Eve of the Julian calendar is celebrated on January 11th or January 13th ( St. Hilary ). While the church bells are ringing, the peasants hit the boards and beat out the old year.

In the Bernese town of Laupen , the Achetringele takes place every New Year's Eve . The "evil spirits" of the old year are driven out of the place with a move.

A broad overview, especially of the older New Year's Eve and New Year's customs in German-speaking Switzerland, can be found in the Swiss Idioticon .

The Swiss version of the Dinner for One sketch has been shown regularly on Swiss television since 1989 .


In Denmark , New Year's Eve is called New Years Eve (nytårsaften), whereby the actual day is also called New Years Eve Day (nytårsaftensdag) . Most Danes celebrate New Year's Eve with relatives or friends. You often meet around 5:30 p.m. and start with a (often alcoholic) drink. At 6 p.m. you can see Queen Margrethe II's New Years address . The address is about what happened in Denmark and in the royal family over the past year. There is no typical food for the whole of Denmark, but there is often cod , fondue or raclette . Various table bombs are "detonated" during the meal. Dinner for One will be broadcast on television at 11:45 p.m. and 60 seconds before midnight the clock of Copenhagen City Hall on Rådhuspladsen will be faded in. When the bells strike 12, you are in the New Year and then toast with sparkling wine or champagne. Then there is a fireworks display. The kids (and sometimes the adults too) wear funny hats and make New Year's jokes.


The Eiffel Tower in Paris has been illuminated at the turn of the year since 2000 . For reasons of fire safety, it was forbidden to set off fireworks in Paris for the 2011/2012 celebration.


In the Netherlands, people celebrate “ Oudejaarsavond ” (New Year's Eve) with families and serve it with Oliebollen , a deep-fried yeast pastry. There are other regional specialties. Carbide raking is also more regional, namely widespread in the east and north . A milk can or a similar metal container is made to pop.


Since religion has been put under pressure in some European countries since the October Revolution and it was forbidden to celebrate Christmas as a religious festival, all Christmas customs and rituals were postponed to New Year's Eve. Therefore, the Christmas tree is set up on New Year's Eve and Santa Claus (Дед Мороз ("Ded Moros") - grandfather or grandfather Frost) brings the presents on New Year's Eve. All people who like each other, family members, friends, etc., celebrate together as in German-speaking countries with a festive meal. In contrast to the Western European countries, however, the New Year in Russia is by far the most important festival; The return of religious traditions, which has long since taken place, has not changed much in this regard. At the beginning of the new year, there are fireworks in all major cities.


In Hungary , at the beginning of the New Year, the Hungarian national anthem is sung with the family. A Happy New Year will be toasted and only then will fireworks be ignited. Fireworks can be set off from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. the following day. In addition, large fireworks are set off in almost every city. A major fireworks display takes place in Budapest , to which many residents from other areas of the country come.

United Kingdom

In London (England), as part of the bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, a 15-minute giant fireworks display on the Thames including the London Eye has become a tradition in recent years . In Manchester there is also a central fireworks display at Town Hall. In Edinburgh (Scotland) a similar fireworks display from Edinburgh Castle has been taking place for decades to celebrate Hogmanay , which is believed to have prompted the capital, London, to put on a large firework display, while previously the start of the year was celebrated without fireworks in London's Trafalgar Square. The lighting of individual fireworks is not common on this day, but takes place on November 5th, Bonfire Night .

United States

In the United States , New Year's Eve is a major social event that is celebrated with large events and parties in metropolitan areas such as New York City and Las Vegas , which experience significant tourism on the day. A highlight that has also played a central role in the media has been the annual ball drop ritual since 1904 . During the last 60 seconds of the old year, the Times Square Ball , a large illuminated sphere, is slowly lowered onto the skyscraper One Times Square . There are similar events in many other cities. The most popular song that is sung at the turn of the year - at least on official occasions - is Auld Lang Syne . Many religious communities also gather their members on New Year's Eve to celebrate the turn of the year as a “night watch”, during which they thank for the past year and pray for a good year to come. This has a special tradition in the Afro-American community. In cities, the local fire brigade organizes central fireworks. Individual firing of fireworks is prohibited in many states. The custom, common in many parts of the country, of firing a firearm at midnight is also illegal. The fireworks on Independence Day are traditionally much more important in the USA than the New Year's Eve fireworks .

See also


Web links

Commons : New Years Eve  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: New Year's Eve  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikisource: New Year's Eve  - Sources and Full Texts

Individual evidence

  1. A letter from Cicero ( Ad Atticus 16: 1, 4) testifies that the Romans already celebrated the beginning of the year with extravagant festivals : Cicero asks himself what to expect from the consuls on January 1st and replies himself: “Sleep in the noise! ".
  2. Customs: No New Year's Eve without the Pope. In: Focus Online . December 30, 2006, accessed December 31, 2010 .
  3. ^ Reorganization of the divine service readings and sermon texts , published on behalf of the church offices of EKD, UEK and VELKD by the management of Pericope Revision (EKD - UEK - VELKD); Since the church year 2018/19, the last Sunday after Epiphany has been celebrated in the seven-day period that ends with Candlemas , while the last Sunday after Epiphany was basically 70 days before Easter Sunday. The proprium of the fourth or fifth Sunday after Epiphany, which was abolished with this new regulation, was transferred to the newly created fourth or fifth Sunday before the Passion.
  4. Tina Sommer: The birth of Christ in the church year and Christmas traditions of the present. 2008, ISBN 978-3-638-95183-8 , p. 17.
  5. Manfred Becker-Huberti: Christmas . In: Ecclesiastical Festival Year . Retrieved January 1, 2011.
  6. J. Smend: The evangelical church service. Göttingen 1904, p. 136, quoted from Andreas Strauch: In the crowd of those who celebrate: Celebrations as an object of practical-theological reflection. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1993, ISBN 3-525-60387-8 , p. 98, there quoted from W. Herbst: Evangelischer Gottesdienst. Sources on its story. Göttingen 1992, p. 222.
  7. ^ Gerhard Müller:  Religious Psychology - Samaritans . In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie (TRE). Volume 29, de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1998, ISBN 3-11-016127-3 , p. 326.
  8. ^ Lars Winterberg: New Year's Eve. EKD , archived from the original on September 27, 2012 ; accessed on December 21, 2018 .
  9. Section 23 (2) of the First Ordinance on the Explosives Act
  10. § 24 Paragraph 1 and Paragraph 2 of the First Ordinance on the Explosives Act
  11. Petra Kölschbach: New Year's Eve fireworks: Great danger for thatched roof houses. In: The island messenger . December 30, 2014, accessed December 31, 2014 .
  12. Section 24, Paragraph 2, Clause 2 of the First Ordinance on the Explosives Act
  13. - Which fireworks are suitable for children?
  14. ^ Homepage of the NDR, accessed on December 31, 2016
  15. Shop opening times on New Year's Eve
  16. ^ City of Vienna Events: New Year's Eve Path ( Memento from May 4, 2012 in the Internet Archive ); accessed on Jan 1. 2012.
  17. ^ ORF Vienna: 800,000 guests celebrated on New Year's Eve Path ; accessed on Jan 1. 2012.
  18. ^ City of Graz Events: Farmer's New Year's Eve ; accessed on December 30, 2017.
  19. Styrian specialties: Farmer's New Year's Eve: Traditionally, New Year's Eve is celebrated before New Year's Eve ; accessed on December 30, 2017.
  20. New Years. In: Eduard Hoffmann-Krayer; Hanns Baechtold-Staeubli: Concise dictionary of German superstition . Volume 6: Wall plow bread . Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-11-016860-X , Sp. 1021.
  21. Laupen municipal administration: The Achetringele, the Laupener New Year's Eve
  22. see for example the articles Nüw-Jâr and Silvëster .
  23. ^ Every year again , Swiss family, December 2019 (archive).
  24. : The 90th birthday or Dinner for One .
  25. ^ Message on of December 30, 2011 , accessed on December 30, 2011.
  26. Manchester New Year's Eve Fireworks. Retrieved January 1, 2021 (UK English).