I was walking past the bakery late last week, and I noticed a tray of little marzipan piggies with signs that said “Viel Glück!” which translates to “Good Luck!” Sensing the possibility to learn something fascinating and new, I immediately e-mailed this picture to my German Authority, Jenny, with the following missive: “Please explain to me the tradition of the good luck pigs?”
The reason for the little Angry Bird combatant snacks is that Germans regard pigs as lucky. Around the end of the year, the Glücksschweinchen (lucky piglet) turns up in various snack foods, often with a four leaf clover or a horse shoe, which are also considered to be lucky. Sometimes a ladybug, also considered good luck, is present as a red foil wrapped chocolatey treat.
Similarly, but not as sugary, chimney sweeps are said to be repositories of good luck, and on New Year’s Day you should do your best to shake hands with your friendly neighborhood sweep. I wonder if the City worker guys who sweep up trash at the bus stop in the morning would count.
There are a slew of other superstitions and traditions- far, far too many to recount here. As we go into New Year’s Eve, I’ll leave you with one more German superstition to bear in mind- Never toast with water. It’s considered a wish for harm to befall the people you are toasting. Stick to ringing in the new year with fine Bavarian beer. It’s just better for all concerned.
Happy new year, everyone! Alles Gute im Neuen Jahr!