Happy New Year from the Google Book Search Team!

Thursday, December 27, 2007 at 3:31 PM

As 2007 comes to an end, we've been pulling together information about the New Year’s Eve traditions in Germany, Italy, Spain and France. We hope that wherever you are, you'll join us in celebrating the New Year!

Glückliches Neues Jahr!

A pot of cold water, a burning candle, a spoon and some lead – these are the essential items for a typical New Year’s Eve in Germany. The melted lead is dropped into cold water, and the patterns that emerge are used to divine possible events in the New Year – a ring might bring an engagement or wedding; a ship announces travelling.

Once they’ve sorted their future out, German families can relax watching "Dinner for One," a comedy sketch broadcast throughout the day. Although it’s not directly connected to New Year’s Eve, the sketch is immensely popular among German viewers and a "must" for a successful New Year’s Eve. Finally, at midnight, it’s time to say farewell to the old year and welcome the New Year with a glass of champagne and a "Berliner Pfannkuchen."

Buon Anno!

Italians celebrate the arrival of the New Year through the "Veglione di Capodanno," a dinner celebration followed by fireworks, concerts in piazzas and dances.

Dinners on the 31st vary according to regions and customs. However, there is one plate that remains the same on all Italian tables: lentils with cotechino. I have to admit that Cotechino, a spicy pork sausage from the Lombardy region, is not my favorite! However, as the lentils on the plate represent wealth for the New Year, no one would dare to curse their future by turning down this delicacy.

¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

If you plan to celebrate the holidays in Spain, don’t forget your grapes for New Year’s Eve, known locally as Nochevieja. Year after year, Spanish people get ready to gobble up 12 grapes, one for each stroke of the clock at midnight, to begin a new year. You can even make a wish for every grape you eat!

Many families gather in the main squares of their cities, or at home around the TV watching the famous clock in Puerta del Sol, while enjoying some of the many festive dishes and champagne. Fireworks and parties last through the night, and after all the celebrations are over, most people start the New Year by eating the famous "churros" -- strips of fried dough that you can dip in hot chocolate. This is the best breakfast in the whole of Spain after a long night out to celebrate 2008.

Bonne Fêtes de Fin d’Année!

Like in other countries, celebration is a part of our lives in France. However, I wonder if we go even more overboard than other countries. Réveillon, or New Year’s Eve, usually begins with seafood as a starter, followed by fish or meat as the main dish, and ends with fabulous desserts. In Provence, the region where I’m originally from, the custom is to eat 13 desserts! The subtlest one out of all these is generally calissons, a marzipan-based fruity treat from Aix en Provence. Nowadays, the 13 desserts are primarily a symbol of family reunion, with each guest participating in making at least one of them. It's also common to share the pastries or desserts you prepare with your neighbours, making it a very special event.

Whether you already have your plans set for the end of the year, or you want to try any of these tasty and colorful variations on the theme, the Book Search team wishes you a very Happy New Year. We’ll see you in 2008!


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