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How the Swiss Predict the New Year

Lead-pouring on New Year's Eve - Paul-Georg Meister  /

What makes us humans different from any kind of god? For one, we're definitely not omnipotent. And secondly, we are also not all-knowing as much as we'd like to think we are! We might know what happened in the past or what is going on today but we have no way of knowing for sure what the future will bring. There are certainly indicators that will point us towards an educated guess but that's how far it goes.

Would we like to know what the future brings? I'm not sure. Fact is, there are traditions that reflect this need to know the future in many cultures around the globe. Certainly, the eve of the old year is one of the days that is almost predestined to host some sort of future predicting activity.

Like every country, Switzerland has it's own set of New Year's Traditions. Some of them center around food, others focus on the coming new year - like a New Year's Resolution for example. Another Swiss New Year's Eve tradition that deals with the coming year is Lead-Pouring. It is actually a common tradition in many German speaking countries, mainly southern Germany and Austria, as well.

How Lead-Pouring works

A person heats a lead figurine with a candle until it starts melting and then pours it into a bowl with cold water. This way, the figurine is turned into a funny looking longish lead shape. People use their imagination to define what it represents and what it therefore predicts for the coming year. A human-ish shape might mean you'll get pregnant or a few droplet shapes might mean you'll make good money. There is no right or wrong in your predictions - especially if you do lead-pouring as a game and not a serious attempt at predicting the future!

How about your countries New Year's traditions? Do you also do lead-pouring?

Source: Radio SRF Virus "Bleigiessen & rote Unterwäsche"



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