“Have a good slide into the New Year!” If you’re spending New Year in Innsbruck, you’ll hear this phrase a lot. New Year in Austria is known as “Silvester” (after St Sylvester), and it involves lots of champagne, lucky pigs, and melting lead on a spoon. Melting lead on a spoon? Yes, I kid you not. Read on and find out how you can bring a touch of “Silvester” to your New Year’s celebrations this year.


What do pigs, ladybirds and toadstools all have in common? Well according to Austrians at New Year, they symbolise good luck in the year to come. No good New Year’s dinner party table is complete without a few decorative pigs or chocolate horseshoes, and some four-leaf clover napkins are a must.

But why do Innsbruckers consider these items to be so lucky? Some have biblical origins (Eve took a four-leaf clover from the garden of Eden, ladybirds are seen as a symbol of the Virgin Mary), and some purely historical (rich Austrians in the Middle Ages had pigs, therefore a pig became a sign of wealth). But whether you’re superstitious or not, these fun lucky charms certainly brighten up New Year!


“Bleigiessen”, literally “lead pouring” in English, is one of Austria’s oldest and strangest New Year’s traditions. It involves melting a small tin figurine (using actual lead can cause lead poisoning) on a spoon over a candle. Once it has melted completely, you pour the molten tin off the spoon in a bowl of cold water. The metal immediately hardens into a strange and unique shape. You remove the solid metal from the water and depending on what shape the metal has now transformed into, you can see what the next year has in store for you.

Does the metal look like a fox? Then you will get smarter! A shell? Your dreams will come true. Every year I always seem to get a frog, but despite what the Bleigiessen kit tells me, I still haven’t won the lottery yet…


Austria is famous for classical music, and the Blue Danube waltz by Viennese composer Johann Strauss is one of the most well-known pieces. But for Austrians, the Blue Danube has a special significance as being THE song of New Year. As the clocks strike midnight, Innsbruckers grab their partner and waltz around the living room/garden/night club (maybe not the last one this year!) to this orchestral masterpiece, spinning themselves into the New Year.

Need some inspiration? Check out the world-famous Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra playing the Blue Danube during their 2014 New Year’s Concert. Happy New Year everyone!

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