How to celebrate New Year’s Eve like an Austrian

New Year’s Eve is known as Silvester in Austria, referring to the anniversary of Saint Sylvester's death. Here’s how to celebrate Austrian-style.

How to celebrate New Year’s Eve like an Austrian
Photo: Andre Karwath/Wikimedia

Brew some punch.

A traditional drink for New Year’s Eve is a punch made with red wine, cinnamon and sugar, which is dedicated to Saint Sylvester. It can also be made with rum and fruit juices. 


Stock up on these little good-luck charms and trinkets to give to your friends on New Year’s Eve. You may have noticed that the Christmas markets have made way for small stands which are selling little marzipan or toy pigs, as well as four-leaf clover charms, chimney sweeps, mushrooms, horseshoes and ladybirds. Pigs are considered lucky as they were traditionally a sign of wealth and prosperity – indicating that their owners would never go hungry.

Fortune-telling, Austrian-style

Bleigießen is an Austrian tradition of melting lead or tin as a way of predicting what the next year will hold for you. You can buy the Bleigießen kits at various shops or stands in most cities. You melt the lead in a spoon over a candle or a stove and pour it into a bowl of cold water. The form that the lead makes is used to predict what the future holds for you. For example, a bubbly surface can refer to money, a fragile or broken shape could mean misfortune. Ships refer to travelling, keys to career advancement, and a horse points to a new car

Serve up some pork and lentils

As pigs are considered lucky, it’s traditional for many Austrians to cook pork ribs, chops or a roast on New Year’s Eve – served with fresh horseradish and sometimes lentils. Lentils are also considered to be lucky as they are shaped like coins and indicate money and wealth for the New Year. Fish is traditionally eaten on New Year’s Day, as it swims forward, taking you in the right direction for a fresh year. Cookies, chocolates and marzipan will also be prepared in the shape of a pig or a fish, and green peppermint ice-cream is sometimes served in the shape of a four-leaf clover.

Waltz into the New Year

If you tune into the national broadcaster ORF, it will be playing the Donauwalzer, the traditional song to accompany the first moments of the New Year. If you find a good dance partner, then this is the moment to do a midnight waltz.

Guten Rutsch!

Wish your friends a Guten Rutsch before midnight (which translates as “sliding well into the next year” and a Frohes neues Jahr after the clock has struck 12. It’s traditional to hug and kiss your fellow party guests, and then sit back and enjoy the fireworks displays.



Today in Austria: A round-up of the latest news on Friday

Find out what's going on today in Austria with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Person getting vaccinated

Extra doses of vaccine to come to Austria

Austria will receive 198,815 additional doses of Biontech Pfizer vaccine doses, after the EU purchased an extra 10 million for member states, Der Standard newspaper reports. Austria had hoped the EU would give it even more extra doses to make up for AstraZeneca delivery problems which means it may fall behind in vaccination this year. 

No Austria-wide lockdown for now, says Kurz

The lockdown in the eastern states of Austria will stay limited to these regions for the time being, Chancellor Kurz  said on Thursday.  He said the country’s intensive care units, showed big differences between regions. States should help each other in the admission of intensive care patients, the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports. 

Record deficit in Austria 

The pandemic has driven the deficit in Austria  to a record level of 8.9 percent of GDP in 2020. The €33.2 billion missing from the state budget, is the highest deficit since records began in 1954. The national debt ratio also rose in 2020 by 13.4 percent to  83.9 percent of economic output, it reports. Preliminary results from Statistics Austria show government spending rose by 12.6% or €24.4 billion compared to 2019 to a total of €217.4 billion, the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports. 

Unemployment fell in March

Unemployment fell significantly in March, but is still at a high level. At the end of March, 457,817 people were registered as unemployed or in AMS training, 51,106 fewer than last February and 104,705 fewer than in March 2020. The unemployment rate at the end of March was 9.4%, a decrease of 1.3 percentage points compared to February and 2.9 percentage points compared to March 2020, the Wiener Zietung newspaper reports 

E-moped sharing scheme comes to Vienna

A new e-moped sharing has been available in Vienna since Thursday. The Go Sharing company starts renting its e-mopeds. Initially the fleet will comprise 200 vehicles, by the end of the year 500 of the green-painted mopeds should be on the road, broadcaster ORF reports.