In this edition of German Words Explained we take a look at three traditions associated with New Year’s Eve.
Raclette is originally a traditional Swiss dish made from cheese.¬† A large piece of cheese is put near a fire and is brought to melting point.¬† When the cheese is soft and about to melt, a layer is scraped of and eaten with bread.
The modern raclette is an electrical table-top heater.¬† Small dishes are filled with chopped-up vegetables, eggs, sausage rings and other small pieces of food and then covered with cheese.¬† These are then placed under the element of the raclette.¬† Many raclettes have a metal top where meat or bread can be fried, some even have stone tops for cooking steak.
Foundue is probably the most well-known outside of Germany, also being a traditional Swiss dish.¬† Originally made by melting cheese and often wine over a flame, many people in Germany use the same form to heat cooking oil on New Year’s Eve and cook small pieces of meat in it.¬† Others melt chocolate instead and dip pieces of fruit in it.
Bleigie√üen is definitely not to eat, it is a tradition that families carry out on New Year’s Eve.¬† They buy small packets of lead – often together with a special spoon.¬† The lead cubes are placed on the spoon and held over a candle so that they melt.¬† Once the lead is molten, it is dropped into cold water where it sets into a new form.¬† The trick is then to decipher what the form means for each person for the coming year.
To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:
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