Monday, January 1, 2007


New Year's Eve was spent kind of quiet and as a Family. The kids wanted to stay up to watch the fireworks that happen at midnight. So they took turns choosing movies.

One video that Hannah chose was our wedding video. The kids were laughing so hard at hair do's from 13 years ago, and how young some people were compared to now. People that they really know looked so different back then. They also recognized my Grandma and Grandpa Astle, which my Grandma died this past year. So that was nice to know they remembered them. The kids were also making fun of the amount of kissing we did in the video. In all, they made us laugh.

The movie they were watching when it became 2007 was Star Wars, Episode 4, or the Original Star Wars. Spencer and Shantal were so into the movie that they decided not to go and watch the fireworks.

The fireworks here in Germany is so different from America. I seriously have never seen such a firework show without going to a crowded celebration of sorts where the firemen light them. Here, you can buy the fireworks that go up in the sky. Matter of fact, that is basically all they have. And everyone was doing them at the exact time and it made it so fun to watch. The show went on for almost an hour, non stop.

It was interesting as everyone came outside once midnight hit. Neighbors we had never seen before. They come out with their wine glasses to toast with those they see on the street and to wish them a happy new year. And the people who were celebrating was such a wide range of people. Even the older people were outside lighting their fireworks. It really was interesting to experience the New Year here in Germany.

The kids got to bed around 1:30 in the morning and I got to bed at 2am.

So, as the old year ends and the Neujahr gets off to what we all hope is a good start, I wish you "einen guten Rutsch!" (a good slide).

Tradition of Sylvester, or New Year's Eve

The night of the Holy Sylvester, the last night of the year, has always been the night of fools and a funny good time. The saint of this day, Pope Sylvester I, according to legend is the man who healed from leprosy and baptized the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great.
Sylvester was a Roman, the son of Rufinus. He was ordained a priest by Marcellinus. Chosen Pope in 314, he continued the work of organizing the peacetime Church so well begun by St. Miltiades. Sylvester saw the building of famous churches, notably the Basilica of St. Peter and the Basilica of St. John Lateran, built near the former imperial palace of that name. It is quite probable too that the first martyrology or list of Roman martyrs was drawn up in his reign. St. Sylvester died in 335. He was buried in a church which he himself had built over the Catacomb of Priscilla on the Via Salaria. His feast is kept on December 31.

In many of the German-speaking areas the change of the year is celebrated noisily and merrily. Guests are invited, and groups attend a "Sylvester Ball." There is eating, drinking, dancing and singing. It may be accompanied by the popular "Sylvester" custom of Bleigiessen. A small piece of lead will be melted over a flame in an old spoon and dropped into a bowl of coldwater. From the shape you can supposedly tell your fortune for the coming year. At midnight, when the old year is almost gone and the new year is about to start, glasses are filled with champagne or wine, and toasts and hugs go with wishing each other "ein gutes neues Jahr". Some go out into the streets and listen to the bells ringing throughout the land. Others participate in shooting in the New Year, or put on their private fireworks.

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March 2007