Germany Has One Of The Most Bizarre New Year’s Eve Traditions

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at 2015.10.30
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For most Americans, New Year”s Eve is a time when we”re supposed to reflect on the past year and to wonder about the year to come. In all honesty, though, people just end up getting plastered and forget about reflection. The people of Germany, on the other hand, have a tradition that is a little more subtle than ours, if not a bit bizarre.

Bleigiessen is a tradition involving melting pieces of lead on a candle and trying to interpret the future based on the shape the lead forms after cooling. It”s a tradition influenced by the molybdomancy divination of the Ancient Greeks, and it”s pretty out there. However, it is also a fun way to take a crack at the deeper philosophical questions of life.

For Bleigiessen, many families purchase a Silvesterblei package. This comes with a spoon and figurines of lead meant to be melted.

For Bleigiessen, many families purchase a Silvesterblei package. This comes with a spoon and figurines of lead meant to be melted.

Put one of the lead figurines into the spoon and hold the spoon over the flame to watch it melt into oblivion.

Put one of the lead figurines into the spoon and hold the spoon over the flame to watch it melt into oblivion.

Then drop the melted lead into a bowl of cool water. Unlike what you”d expect, the lead makes an explosive pop sound when it touches the water instead of steaming.

Then drop the melted lead into a bowl of cool water. Unlike what you

Now watch as the lead hardens into bizarre shapes.

Now watch as the lead hardens into bizarre shapes.

They may seem abstract, but like watching clouds, the point is to find your own shapes of meaning in the metal to determine your future. Sometimes, the shadow of the piece is just as important.

They may seem abstract, but like watching clouds, the point is to find your own shapes of meaning in the metal to determine your future. Sometimes, the shadow of the piece is just as important.

There are some common shapes that mean certain futures. For instance, a bubbly surface means money. A broken shape might mean misfortune. If the lead looks like a ship or car, this means traveling sometime in the future. A key means career advancement. The mushroom shape means it will be a good year.

There are some common shapes that mean certain futures. For instance, a bubbly surface means money. A broken shape might mean misfortune. If the lead looks like a ship or car, this means traveling sometime in the future. A key means career advancement. The mushroom shape means it will be a good year.

The future is, of course, not set in stone (or lead). The German people rarely take these predictions seriously. To them, it”s just a fun mediation on time, fate, and free will.

The future is, of course, not set in stone (or lead). The German people rarely take these predictions seriously. To them, it

Here”s a song often associated with the Bleigiessen tradition:

In der Silvester-Nacht

wird das Blei zum Schmelzen gebracht.

Es wird gekippt in Wasser, kalt und klar;

rate, was stellen die Figuren dar?

Schau sie an, so wie sie sind;

ratst die Gestalt du nicht geschwind.

Halt sie hinters Licht,

das Schattenbild dir mehr verspricht.

Kommt es dir nicht in den Sinn,

schau auf dieses Buchlein hin.

Es sagt dir frank und frei,

so allerlei…!In der Silvester-Nacht

wird das Blei zum Schmelzen gebracht.

Es wird gekippt in Wasser, kalt und klar;

rate, was stellen die Figuren dar?

Schau sie an, so wie sie sind;

ratst die Gestalt du nicht geschwind.

Halt sie hinters Licht,

das Schattenbild dir mehr verspricht.

Kommt es dir nicht in den Sinn,

schau auf dieses Buchlein hin.

Es sagt dir frank und frei,

so allerlei…

Cute! I think I”d just be afraid if my lead blob ends up looking nothing more than a lead blob. That would just send me into an existential crisis.

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