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New Year's Eve in Germany

New Year's Eve (Silvester), which is on December 31, is the last day of the year and serves as an occasion for public and private parties in Germany. It is also a time to look back at the past year and forward to the new one. In the evening, German television broadcasts the same sketches and short films each year.

Is New Year's Eve a Public Holiday?

New Year's Eve is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.

Fireworks on New Year's Eve.

©iStockphoto.com/scampdesigns

What Do People Do?

Many people spend the morning and afternoon of New Year's Eve quietly or preparing the celebrations in the evening and night. Some people mark the end of the old year and the start of the new year by attending a church service that culminates at midnight.

In many cities and some smaller towns and villages, there are big public celebrations that often begin in the evening and last throughout the night. Many celebrations feature local or national singers and musicians.

Some people hold private celebrations at home. They invite friends and family members and prepare a festive meal, often in the form of a buffet. Television programs relating to New Year's Eve can play an important role at celebrations at home. The film Dinner for One, which portrays a butler serving an English Lady her birthday meal, and the New Year's Eve episode of the series One Heart and One Soul (Ein Herz und eine Seele) are annually broadcast in the evening of December 31. The rest of the evening is filled with humorous sketches, game shows and images of public celebrations in large cities.

Public Life

December 31 is not a public holiday. However, post offices, banks, stores and other businesses may close earlier than usual. Public transport services may be reduced or non-existent in the evening. However, large cities may put on extra services in the late evening of December 31 and early hours of January 1 to enable people to get to and from public celebrations safely.

Symbols

Midnight is often marked by fireworks and fire crackers. Many people drink and toast with champagne or other sparkling wine. People may give each other gifts of four-leaf clover as a symbol of good luck for the New Year. Fireworks, fire crackers, sparkling wine and the four leaf clover are seen as symbols of New Year's Eve.

In some areas, people take part in a form of fortune telling known as Bleigiessen. They melt small quantities of lead on a silver spoon above a candle. The molten lead is then tipped into a bowl of cold water where it solidifies. The shape that the lead takes on is a symbol for the fortunes of the coming year.

About New Year's Eve in other countries

Read more about New Year's Eve.

New Year's Eve Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010FriDec 31New Year's EveObservance 
2011SatDec 31New Year's EveObservance 
2012MonDec 31New Year's EveObservance 
2013TueDec 31New Year's EveObservance 
2014WedDec 31New Year's EveObservance 
2015ThuDec 31New Year's EveObservance 
2016SatDec 31New Year's EveObservance 
2017SunDec 31New Year's EveObservance 
2018MonDec 31New Year's EveObservance 
2019TueDec 31New Year's EveObservance 
2020ThuDec 31New Year's EveObservance 

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