I don't know about you, but I'm not a big fan of New Year's Eve. I find that making plans for that night, for whatever reason, always ends up being a complicated thing. Some people want to go out to a bar, others want to stay home and have a nice meal with friends, and yet others want to to do both. Loads of compromises need to be made and someone is always unhappy about the way the evening turns out. I find New Year's Eve to be a big headache, and frankly, that's no way to start a new year.
That's why I really enjoyed my NYE last year. One of my friends, with some of her friends, took the initiative to "rent" out a bar in downtown Montreal and to invite all their friends there. We all had a fantastic evening at the Old Man Bar, with our Tall Boys and pig knuckles....OK fine, no one actually ate pig knuckles that night, but they are actually really served there on regular nights! This fine evening was repeated this year, and I hear that it was as successful as last year.
Of course this year I was not able to participate in all the fun at the Old Man Bar, given the fact that I am here in Germany! But I had an equally good time here.
The evening started out at 7pm with the first tradition of the night- the showing of "Dinner for One", a comedy sketch written by British author Lauri Wylie for the theatre in the 1920s. German television station Norddeutscher Rundfunk recorded a performance of the piece in 1963, in its original English language. This short comical play subsequently went on to become the most frequently repeated TV programme ever (thank you Wikipedia). This short movie is showed every New Year's Eve on German television, in its original language. Every German, from old to young, knows about "Dinner for One". For those of you who do not know the movie, here is the story line:
The sketch presents the 90th birthday of elderly upper-class Englishwoman Miss Sophie, who hosts a dinner every year for her close friends Mr Pommeroy, Mr Winterbottom, Sir Toby, and Admiral von Schneider to celebrate the occasion. (Note that the plot has nothing to do with New Year's Eve, as is often incorrectly stated. There is a "Happy new year" toast, but this is purely a reference to Miss Sophie's anniversary.) The problem is that given Miss Sophie's considerable age, she has outlived all of her friends, and so her equally aged butler James makes his way around the table, impersonating each of the guests in turn. Miss Sophie decides on appropriate drinks to accompany the menu of the evening, consisting of Mulligatawny soup (Miss Sophie orders sherry) , North Sea haddock (with white wine), chicken (with champagne), and fruit for dessert (with port) served by James, and so he finds himself raising (and emptying) his glass four times per course. That takes its toll, increasingly noticeable in James' growing difficulty in pouring the drinks, telling wine glasses from vases of flowers, and refraining from bursting into song. Even before the alcohol begins to exert its influence, he has trouble coping with a tiger skin sitting on the floor between the dinner table and the buffet.
The crucial exchange during every course is:
James: The same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?
Miss Sophie: The same procedure as every year, James!
After the dinner, Miss Sophie indicates to a very drunk James that she wishes to retire to bed, to which James responds:
James: By the way, the same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?
Miss Sophie, delightedly: The same procedure as every year, James!
James: Well, I'll do my very best!
***Everything in italics was taken from Wikipedia***
At around 8pm, a few friends came to hang out at our place- oops! I mean Ronny's place of course!!!- with a few of Ronny's friends. We chatted over Gin and Tonics and enjoyed each other's company.
During the evening, we took part in the second traditional activity of that night, namely, finding out our future for the new year. "How do you find out your future for the year to come?" you ask. Well, it's easy. All you need is a candle, a spoon, and a figurine made of lead. You need to melt the figurine in the spoon over the candle. Once the figurine turns into a puddle of lead, you poor the said puddle in water and Kazamm!, your future is determined! All you need to do next is try to "read" your future in the hardened lead piece that has formed.
My lead piece looks like a tree, which apparently means "Growth in your capabilities". I am not quite sure what that means, but I'll take it anyway!
This German tradition is in a way similar to the Chinese tradition of Fortune cookies, minus the less-than-tasty Chinese cookie of course!
Shortly before midnight, we all went out, and proceeded to light up the varied sorts of rockets and fireworks that we had bought at the supermarket a few days before. This was the start of the third traditional activity of the evening. In Germany, it is now only allowed, but also very much enjoyed and widespread, to buy fireworks for New Year's Eve and put on your own mini firework show. Since everyone does that, the sky is completely light up for a good 20 minutes from midnight on. We had everything from proper fireworks to cherry bombs, and it was a whole lot of fun to set everything up on fire and enjoy the show! Fireworks were being set off from everywhere and it really created quite the festive atmosphere. I tried taking a few pictures, but unfortunately, they all came out way too dark, so you'll just have to use your imagination!
The rest of the evening was spent at my friend Anja's house, which was a lot of fun too.
It was really nice to partake in all the German traditions of New Year's Eve and it made for a great start for 2008!