We celebrate “Sylvester”

Berhnard Nigl, Head of Group Strategic Sales in UNIQA Corporate Business

“We thank you for the excellent cooperation in the spirit of partnership! Together with you, we have been able to master these difficult times. We are looking forward to 2022, with hopefully a little more normality, and wish you and your loved ones a great start to the new year.” 

And how is Berhnard going to spend the last day of 2021? I spend New Year’s Eve with my family in Ober St. Veit, which is in the 13th district in the outskirts of Vienna. In the afternoon we take a walk in the “Wienerwald,” the Vienna woods, and have a warming fondue afterwards with our friends at home. Close to midnight we go to the “Himmelhof,” which is a popular site close by in the hills surrounding the city, to watch the city‘s fireworks and welcome the new year.

Austria celebrates New Year's Eve as Sylvesterabend (Saint Sylvester's Day Eve). Sylvester is a German word coming from the thusly-named pope and saint who died on December 31st, AD 335. Sylvester is celebrated by drinking a spiced wine punch and eating suckling pig and popular Glücksschwein (good luck pigs traditionally made from marzipan). Why are pigs associated with good luck? Traces of’ ‘lucky pigs’ are found in late medieval board and card games, while the use of boar effigies as talismans is attested as far back as the early Middle Ages.

At midnight itself, the giant Pummerin bell of Vienna’s St. Stephen’s cathedral then rings in the New Year with the chimes simultaneously broadcast across TV and radio. Of course, Vienna also boasts spectacular fireworks.

Here we provide a couple useful New Year phrases in German which are absolutely crucial if you what to celebrate Silvester in Vienna’s streets:

  • Happy New Year / “guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr” (often shortened to just “guten Rutsch”)
  • Sorry, I can’t hear you over the noise of the fireworks / “Ich kann Sie nicht hören wegen der Kracher”
  • A marzipan pig – how delightful / “Ein Schwein aus Marzipan. Wie nett”

So…guten Rutsch! (Happy New Year)

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