Vienna on New Year’s Eve is abuzz with revellers going to parties, restaurants, balls… or heading out to the greatest ballroom dancefloor in the city – the historical centre in the first district. This is, at least, the special Viennese style we have been used to. 2021 in Vienna will be welcomed by eerily deserted streets, modest firework displays and glasses of champagne clinking quietly the midnight toast.
Possibly the most anticipated moment of 2020 is its very departure and the hope of turning a new chapter in the new year, preferably one free of the pandemic and the restrictions that came as a response to it. Celebrating the end of 2020 with a bang and with all our friends or even strangers is out of the question, in view of the most recent round of restrictions. However, with Christmas past us, we will have been used to contained revels in the comfort of our homes. With that in mind and with the ever-hopeful spirit for a better new year, we have prepared for you the top ways to celebrate New Year’s 2020/21.
Without further ado, here are our lockdown-friendly suggestions:
Personal farewell to 2020
By this moment in time, perhaps reflection is not something you would wish to indulge more on. However, making peace with this events this year and the way they affected your life could set up your thoughts for a more optimistic outlook in the year ahead. As such, on 31 December, do something that means saying farewell to 2020 and all it brought into your life. This can mean doing a long meditation by yourself or guided, go for a jog or a walk, write down and contemplate your personal success moments and your challenges this year, creating a gratitude list, catching up with your dearest friends, doing a spa-like relaxation ritual in your home. Or on the more light-hearted side, do a marathon of your favourite films or series or cook yourself a festive New Year’s dinner.
If you are an afficionado of old Viennese establishment, then you will definitely appreciate that several take-out booths of the most famous cafés will be open and offering you the possibility to take something home between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. These are Das Knusperhäuschen TAKE AWAY of the Hofburg Café, the Jausenstation Take Away in Schönbrunn, or Café Landtmann’s Take Away. Please be mindful that all their products are ‘to go’ and that the only persons accompanying you are the ones from your own household.
The takeaway here is: do something special for yourself on the last day of 2020. If you are spending this day with your partner or members of your household, do something enjoyable together, even if that is just preparing a special dinner for the turn of the year celebration.
A themed virtual party can easily be carried over online these days, to which one would include the added bonus of not being able to make questionable choices in the spur of the moment and under the influence of too many downed glasses of champagne. You might not be kissing anyone at midnight (or maybe disinfect your phone or laptop screen, in case you get that tipsy), but you would have your favourite company for the midnight toast. Feel free to have a theme and wear any ludicrous items you like (slumber party anyone?), or even to play games. If you enjoy video games above all else, you can register for the game together or set up a watch party and stream your favourite film together. Game night is also possible – where there is a will, there is a way.
All partied out or you have succumbed to apathy? Instead of having a party, ring your closest mates or family for the midnight toast and share smiles, hopes and good cheer. Even if group celebration is not possible in person, having that connection, even if online, still makes a huge difference on morale.
For the first time in probably forever, you have the rare opportunity to not worry about the toll of the holidays on your monthly budget. Or perhaps funds otherwise spent on travel, ball tickets, restaurants, clubs or parties suddenly become available. So why not make that midnight toast very special and treat yourself to one of the luxury brands, such as Moet et Chandon, Pommery or Veuve Clicquot? Or any other one you’ve been curious about. Want to break with the tradition of champagne or prosecco? Consider a cocktail, whiskey or cognac toast instead. Check out some of our Chivas Regal whiskey cocktail ideas. Cheers to that!
Dinner for One
This unanimously known expression all over Austria is not only a reference to how many are likely to spend New Year’s Eve, with due consideration to the restrictions, but to a well-known Austrian tradition. On 31 December of every year, the ORF broadcasts Dinner for One, a 1963 black-and-white comedic sketch, written by Lauri Wylie for the theatre and featuring May Warden and Freddie Frinton, playing Miss Sophie and James, the characters at Miss Sophie’s 90th birthday party. She hosts the dinner every year with four friends but having outlived them all and still keeping up with her tradition, it is up to her manservant, James, to impersonate them all for her amusement, getting drunk in the process to a hilarious, cheeky ending. The sketch became a beloved classic in Austria since its first broadcast in 1972, usually half an hour before midnight, ‘the same procedure as every year’. So why not tune in to ORF and experience this local Austrian tradition this New Year’s Eve?
Visual entertainment and performances
In a similar fashion to the above point, watching a special New Year’s Eve broadcast could be enjoyable and relaxing as you await the midnight countdown. If you are looking for visual entertainment earlier, check out the WinterCircus Full Show, which starts at 7 p.m. Many music halls and theater venues across the world will be streaming classical music concerts or plays, so be sure to research online and grab your tickets or register for the events. Finally, last-minute seats available two weeks before New Year’s Eve.
Lucky charms and divination
Marzipan piglets, chocolate pennies, horseshoes and four-leaf clovers, along with other trinkets for good luck have started to fill out the shelves of supermarkets, while their decorative counterparts can be found in virtually all stores and pop-up stands. These inexpensive items are a welcome lucky charm you can treat yourself or your family to on New Year’s Eve, as well as making a welcome gift to friends – whenever you meet them first in the new year.
In addition to carrying or eating one of the above harbingers of good luck and prosperity, fortune-telling finds itself well at home on New Year’s Eve. A form of divination popular in Austria is molybdomancy – Bleigiessen or lead pouring, whereby the shapes formed by hot metal cast in water foretells the state of affairs in the year to come. Naturally, it is dangerous and toxic, but molybdomancy kits nowadays can be found for purchase with tin or wax, so that this tradition can be continued. The reading is based on the shapes evoked and naturally leaves the omens to the imagination of the reader. For a collective interpretation of the omens, cast the liquid wax or tin, take pictures of the end-shape and have a go with your friends at guessing what the year ahead brings you.
Celebrate New Year traditions other countries
We trust many of our readers probably would have been spending the holidays abroad and would have maybe observed local traditions for New Year’s. While the charm of being there cannot be supplanted by anything, we suggest our reader to consider some traditions from around the world, especially the ones said to bring good luck, prosperity or love.
Clothing. Polka dots dresses are commonly worn in the Philippines when ringing in the new year, as the polka dots are symbols of money and fortune. If you don’t have any polka-dotted items, surrounding yourself with round items, including fruits and veggies, is also said to bring in prosperity. If you wish to altogether forego dots, you may consider wearing special-coloured underwear. In Italy, red underwear is said to bring luck, in Argentina on the other hand, wearing brand new pink underwear when ringing in the New Year is said to attract love. Similarly, Bolivians stock up on yellow underwear, which they wear when ringing in the new year, as they are said to bring luck and money to the wearer.
Special foods. There could be an entire article dedicated to the New Year’s foods of a single country, let alone all. So just as a few examples, we will not include here dishes, but rather fun and inexpensive traditions that involve food. If you would like to borrow another Argentinian tradition, eat beans to ensure you keep your job or that you get an even better one. In Italy, people stuff their pockets with dried lentils (usually in pouches) on New Year’s Eve, to ensure they attract good fortune and wealth in the year to come. The pouch with lentils is then either added to a dish or kept somewhere in the home throughout the year. In Spain, the tradition is to eat twelve whole grapes, each grape should go down before the next chime, so that by the time the twelfth and final chime of midnight rings, you will have eaten 12 grapes. Another special mention is Switzerland, where the tradition is to drop a dollop of cream on the floor, while in France people eat a stack of crepes.
Out with the old. One popular tradition in Mexico involves cleaning on New Year’s Eve, as it is considered another way to bring good fortune in the home. People commonly sweep towards the outside of the home to drive away the negative energy and then toss coins on the ground, which they sweep inside the home, to welcome financial prosperity.
What are some New Year’s traditions from your country or region that would be fun and easy to try out?
Dance a waltz at home
This one will work either if you spend New Year’s in the company of family or your partner or if your broomstick is particularly adept at leading. Right after the ringing of the Pummerin – the large bell atop the St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Johann Strauss’ well-known waltz “On the Beautiful Blue Danube” will be broadcast over radio, so that revellers can whirl and turn into the new year to these beautiful tunes in the comfort of their own homes, where not even the worst of steps risk video-bombing other revellers’ recordings. On any other year, you would expect to hear this played on the Graben, where all can join in the midnight waltzing of the New Year.
New Year’s Brunch
A modern tradition, hangover brunches area meant to accompany the boozy welcome of the year. We presume that this type of welcome will be perpetuated gleefully by most, which makes our next suggestion a must: New Year’s brunch. Avocado toast and smoked salmon omelette could be your normal go-to brunch dishes, but feel free to draw up your own and prepare it in advance: open sandwiches with your favourite toppings, cheese and ham platter, olives, one-bite canapes… The mouth-watering list could go one, the important thing is having the brunch ready to enjoy when you wake up, which accordingly should be closer to noon time than morning.
New Year’s Concert
A world-famous Austrian tradition, the yearly New Year’s concert will take place on 1 January 2021, from 11.15 a.m. and it will be broadcast over television in 90 countries around the world, as well as online, where viewers are invited to register and to applaud the. Due to the high demand, right now the registrations are suspended, however viewers are welcome to check again on 26 December. If you did not get a registration ticket, be sure to tune to ORF to watch the broadcast.
Resolutions and intentions
Set resolutions and actually draw up a reasonable plan to accomplish them. In fact, if you could choose one thing that you think would change your life for the better and you would commit to stick to it for one year, what would it be?
We hope our list inspired some activities that you can partake in to welcome the New Year – lockdown edition. We wish to take this opportunity to wish our subscribers and readers a Prosit Neujahr or Guten Rutsch!
Happy new year and all the very best in 2021!