German Traditions for the New Year

There are countless perks to growing up in countries other than the one you were born in. There are also a few drawbacks, and preserving traditions can be one of them. 

While celebrating a German Christmas abroad may have been relatively easy (you explain to the kids that Nikolaus changed his name to Santa, and he comes later because “he has to travel so far”), celebrating a German new year was never quite the same.

Besides celebrating with close friends and family, and shooting off legal-fireworks in your own back yard, there was another tradition we couldn’t maintain abroad: the tradition of Bleigießen otherwise known as lead pouring.

Now that I am back to living in Germany again for the first time since my childhood, I can partake in all the toxin-laden Bleigießen my little herz desires.

And here’s how it goes:

In addition to your supplies you’ll need a candle and a bowl of cold water

bleigiessen with passports and pamplemousse

bleigiessen with passports and pamplemousse











Pick one of the lead pieces and heat it up using your spoon over an open flame

bleigiessen with passports and pamplemousse









Once liquid, pour it quickly into the bowl of water

bleigiessen with passports and pamplemousse









Remove the shape. Use your imagination (use it a lot) to decipher what the shape looks like.

The supplies package would have come with a list of meanings. Or you can consult a list such as this one to see what your lead shape symbolizes and what fortune it tells for your new year!

bleigiessen with passports and pamplemousse











If you’re curious about your fortune for the New Year, check for Bleigießen* supplies online and ring in the New Year with some good fireworks, some better champagne, and some lead pouring (no, not poisoning please).

In Germany it’s considered impolite not to look someone in the eye when you cheers them. So make sure to look everyone in the eye while clinking Sekt glasses and wishing Zum Wohl

If you want to be really German about it, then get together and watch Dinner for One – a 1920’s British comedy sketch which German’s seem to have a peculiar obsession with. It’s a cult icon of a German Silvesterabend.  „The same procedure as every year!“

I wish you all a guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr (literally, a good slip/slide into the new year)

* Bleigießen products are sold readily throughout Europe without warning labels, but my personal preference is to take good care when playing with lead, especially around small children. Tin or beeswax may also be used and is of course much safer. A little disclaimer, for all my fans!


7 thoughts on “German Traditions for the New Year

  1. We did this tradition the very first year that we arrived here. We had gone to our “local” where after a few Poire Willies (which I can never drink again) we were welcomed with open arms. The bit you put about using your imagination to decipher what each shape is completely made me laugh. Funnily enough, that bit is much easier it seems after a few Poire Williams’ too! 😀

    1. Hi Emma! thanks for stopping by! Sounds like a great memorable new year you had 😉 I imagine after a few Poire Williams’ you can also dance really well and speak multiple foreign languages fluently in addition to guessing the “lead” that poured :)) hah

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