Silvester in Berlin

Pfannkuchen with our celebratory candles.

Pfannkuchen with our celebratory candles.

Silvester aka New Year’s Eve.  What could possibly be different about living in a new country on this day? Well of course it is called something completely different which threw me off. I am not sure why I assumed it would be called New Year’s Eve, but I did. Silvester, as it is called, is the celebration of Pope Sylvester 1. He was Pope in the early 300’s and was said to have cured Constantine of leprosy. Silvester is the celebration of the Feast of St. Sylvester on the anniversary of his death: December 31, 335.

Some being lit near our house.

Some fireworks being lit near our house.

In Berlin (perhaps Germany as a whole) Fireworks are all the rage. Before Christmas signs and banners start waving from store fronts all over town advertising the incoming Feuerwerks that will be making their appearance immediately after Christmas. They are sold beginning on the 27th at grocery stores, pop-up Feuerwerk shops, and any small Laden nearby. On Silvester the small drink mart near our house had boxes upon boxes of various fireworks available surrounding the cash register; it looked like the man behind the counter had built himself a fort out of fireworks. The “show” started slowly near us on the 30th. As I walked to the grocery store I was surrounded by a firework show put on by anybody with money to buy them. It is different for us, as fireworks were not legal in MN for so long, to now see people launching things we would only see on July 4th or other major events. I think you need a license or at least special training to launch some of these things in MN and here kids as young as 7 were launching off here within feet of our apartment.

Just one shot from the massive show.

Just one shot from the massive show.

It is loud, smoky and amazing. In the morning the streets were littered with the aftermath of HOURS of fireworks/ firecracker displays, no joke hours of noise and lights. On Silvester they began around 9 am and when we went to bed at 3:30am New Year’s morning they were still going. There were some very loud ones that were special out of country fireworks which we are pretty sure are illegal here- being launched near our flat. A couple of times our entire building shook with the sound blast from these large fireworks.

The morning aftermath in a empty paved area near our home. Just a few fireworks were shot off here.

The morning aftermath in an empty paved area near our home. Just a few fireworks were shot off here.

Yes, like any urban area there are clubs and parties everywhere. The Brandenburger Tor was the place to be, but as we are still a young family we did not venture there. Perhaps some year when we have a sitter, or our kids are old enough to stay alone, have their own parties to go to, or really want to go we will make the trek. I would do it once, just like I would do Time’s Square one time if ever able just to say we did it.

That evening a couple from downstairs came up to enjoy appetizers and conversation with us. The kids stayed up late and around 10:15 went outside with Denny to launch some of our own fireworks because that is what you do here. They came back up at 11:30 and stayed up for about an hour of the best fireworks before passing out in their beds trying to watch the show from their windows without falling asleep. The neighbors went home at 3:15 and the fireworks were still blasting off around us.

Our friends also made a traditional New Year’s Day food: Berliners, Pfannkuchen, for us to snack on. There is usually one or two in the batch that are surprisingly not filled with marmalade but mustard. Denny and our friend each pulled one of those from the stack. Denny said it wasn’t bad, but he really likes mustard. I made Flammkuchen which is a delicious and easy German recipe.

Again, I didn’t take many photos. We did capture some video of the fireworks display from our balcony until they started going off a little too close to our faces for comfort. Experiencing New Year’s Eve in this way was incredible and unexpected. It was a great way to ring in our six month Berlin anniversary and we look forward to celebrating it again at the end of this year!

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