I was very excited for my first ever New Year’s Eve (Silvester) celebration in Germany. The celebration here is quite different compared to the one in Vietnam. In Vietnam, we celebrate new year twice. The first celebration happens on December 31st like the rest of the world. The second is usually the bigger one and takes place in February, according to the lunar calendar.
For Vietnamese, end of the year celebration is often a time for family. It is important to have a clean house to welcome the new year. I remember as a kid my mom would make my sister and I clean our rooms. My mom cooks a feast and prays to our ancestors for luck and health for the upcoming year. Then we watch a very famous annual comedy show and wait till midnight to watch fireworks on the rooftop.
On the other hand, I notice that younger people in Germany usually gather and go out with friends on New Year’s Eve. We gathered at a friend’s apartment and had pizza as there were too many of us to cook. But it’s also common to make a Raclette dinner. A raclette contains a mini stove, where you can cook cheese, meat, cold cuts, and veggies together. It’s a bit similar to hot pot in Asia.
When it was close to midnight, we walked to Hauptmarkt to watch fireworks. In Germany, people can purchase fireworks in grocery stores like Aldi, Norma and shoot the fireworks themselves. The street was filled with fireworks fallout at the end. People then went clubbing till 4 or 5 in the morning. In Vietnam, private possession of fireworks is illegal due to safety reason so the state usually puts on fireworks shows around the city when the clock strikes midnight.
Overall, it was a different celebration of new year for me as I was not with my family. Nevertheless, it was fun and heartwarming as I looked back at 2017’s ups and downs and feel blessed for an upcoming year full of adventures in Germany.