New Year is almost here! Sparkling wine or champagne are put on ice, fireworks are provided – but there are so many other customs in Austria to welcome the New Year. Here are four of the most common ones:

1. Guten Rutsch & Prosit Neujahr

There are two sayings in Austria that basically mean the same but mustn’t be confused: one is used in the old year and one in the new.

Before New Year’s Eve you say “Guten Rutsch” if you meet friends or a family member. This means you wish them a good and healthy start into the New Year.

On the first day of the New Year or when you meet your family and friends for the first time, you greet them with “Prosit Neujahr”.  This means you wish them a Happy New Year.

Österreichische Neujahrsbräuche: Bleigießen

2. Lead Pouring

Lead pouring is an attempt to predict the future. You can buy lead pouring kits in supermarkets or on Christmas markets. They consist of a tablespoon and some figures made out of lead which are usually shaped like a pig, clover or other lucky charms.

Using the tablespoon, you melt one of those figures by holding the spoon over a flame and once it is liquid you pour it into a bowl of cold water. The lead solidifies immediately and the resulting figure is used to predict the coming year.

3. Lucky Charms

After New Year’s Eve, Austrians give lucky charms to their friends and family. Very popular are charms that look like a four-leaf clover, horseshoe, chimney sweep, fly agaric or a pig. Some lucky charms are edible and made of chocolate or marzipan.

The lucky charms are supposed to bring luck, wealth and health.

Österreichische Neujahrsbräuche: Walzer tanzen

4. Dance a waltz

With all the famous Austrian composers, Austria is the land of the Viennese Waltz. And of course we waltz our way into the New Year! After the countdown, when the 12 chimes of the bells are over, people all over the country dance to the “The Blue Danube” waltz. This song is broadcasted on the radio and television.


Bild „Blei gießen“: CC BY-SA 3.0 Micha L. Rieser