So it's the 31st of December.
I'm not sure how they do things where you are, but in Germany we've wandered about wishing one another a 'good slide' into the new year for at least a week now, on the off chance we don't see each other before then. It's one of the few things we're willing to wish people in advance. (By contrast, most people I know won't celebrate their birthdays until after the fact, unless it's the evening immediately before, and the party goes past midnight. There's sort of a tacit worry doing so might jinx things. Similarly baby showers weren't a thing for my generation. International television offerings are changing that a little, because who doesn't like a party?)
[A bit of German (mum would be so proud): 'Ich wünsche dir einen guten Rutsch.' = 'I wish you a good slide.' Everyone understands that the new year is implied, but belts and braces: 'ins neue Jahr' = 'into the new year'. In fact, the saying is frequently reduced just to the 'good slide' bit.]
It's been a very long time since I've celebrated New Year's Eve in an English speaking country, but I can't seem to recall as much focus on the event in advance, more of a 'Happy New Year' after the fact. Please feel free to jog my memory or teach me something new. :-)
We'll be celebrating with friends tonight with an evening filling Raclette. That's (sort of / nothing at all like) a fondue, in that it's a communal food cooking event. Everyone gets a small pan they fill with raw ingredients and then warm on a table stove, a bit like a very limited purpose toaster oven. Usually it's an extremely cheese laden affair (I mean that literally), but it's a good meal to accommodate a variety of allergies and dietary restrictions. (Tonight this will neatly get us around ovo-, lacto- and shellfish allergies, all without excluding the vegan amongst our friends. It was probably that, or serve cardboard, as to the best of my knowledge, none of us are allergic to paper. Yet.) The melted stuff gets poured over potatoes, rinse repeat, and a few hours later, you're stuffed to the gills. The top of the cooker also serves to fry up pieces of meat, fish and shrimps, which we serve with a large variety of sauces, because it's a holiday, and that's apparently synonymous with 'decadence', darn it!
Traditionally, we watch 'Dinner for One'. I'll be honest, I have no idea why. What I can tell you is if you look at a German television guide on the 31st (that's called 'Silvester' here, as it's Pope Silvester I's commemoration day; I feel comfortable assuring you most people here won't know that either), you'll find the show airing on the public broadcasting stations all over the country. (Those still make up a significant percentage of our viewing landscape.) Most oddly, the eleven minute minute sketch is in English.
Here's a 30 second recap.
Miss Sophie celebrates her 90th birthday. As she's outlived her friends (or is a completely batty loon, we'll never know), she's alone with her butler, who ever so kindly fills all of the other roles. 'Same procedure as every year.'
(Which is about when I hear the strains of 'Fiddler on the Roof', a loud cry of 'Tradition!', and Topol saying, 'You may ask, "How did this tradition get started?" I'll tell you. I don't know...')
Here's a link to the whole sketch thing for the terminally curious.
Personally, I recommend not being sober while watching, which always makes me wonder why it's aired around dinner time. (Conclusions: either I don't drink enough or don't start early enough, or my sense of humour isn't compatible with the majority's, all of which are probable and not mutually exclusive.)
At midnight, we'll trek down to a spot with a good view of the city to watch the fireworks. That's not a municipal display. Private citizens in Germany will spend a perfectly silly amount of money (last year it was 137 MILLION EUROS, maths says: that's roughly 1 2/3 Euros a nose) and light up the skies. Well, for five to ten minutes before the resultant smog ruins the view, but it's pretty and it's fun and we have a good time.
I really hope all of you do, as well, however you celebrate.
Best wishes for the new year,
Einen guten Rutsch! 🍀