New Year’s Eve (Silvester) in Vienna

What are we celebrating on the 31st of December and where does the name Silvester for New Year's Eve come from? What customs do we associate with the last day of the year? How is New Year's Eve celebrated in Vienna?

On December 31, 335, Pope Sylvester I died in Rome. In 1582, the last day of the year, December 24, was postponed to Pope Sylvester I's day of death, ie December 31st. From this time on we count according to the Gregorian calendar (after Pope Gregory XIII.)

Already the Romans celebrated 150 years BC. the end of the year and in the Germanic tradition, fire works  are used at the end of the year. The fireworks already served in former times for the expulsion of evil spirits, which should spare the people from misfortune in the new year.

Traditionally we hear in Vienna at midnight the Pummerin (largest bell of Austria) in the Stephansdom, which announces the New Year. This is followed by the 9-minute long version of the Danube waltz. People dance into the New Year and have a glass of sparkling wine or champagne in hand which should not be missed for toasting.

Small lucky charms in the shape of a shamrock, horseshoe or pork are gladly given as a present. At private celebrations at home, people like to dedicate themselves to the lead casting in order to look into the future and guess what the new year might bring.

In rural areas, the “Perchtenlauf” takes place. Equipped with a bell, the masked man is supposed to send away the winter resp. the old year.

The Old Town of Vienna transforms into a long party mile, the so-called New Year's Eve path (Silvesterpfad). Numerous places offer stages with entertainment and culinary offer of any kind. The show program ranges from waltz, operetta, rock, pop to folk music and latin music.

Traditionally, the Operetta Fledermaus by Johann Strauss is performed in the State Opera and broadcasted live to the outside.

The New Year's Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic is broadcasted worldwide at 11:00am on New Year's Day and is also broadcasted on a giant screen in front of the city hall.

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