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Celebrating Silvester – Lighting the Way for the New Year

Graben Decorations

Evening settles in on the pedestrian street called the Graben, lined with fine architecture and shops and strung with decorative lights for the holidays.

While some of us may initially think of the putty tat, as the end of the year nears in Vienna one keeps hearing the name Silvester in reference to celebrations and parties: Silvester being what the locals (as in some other European countries) call New Year’s Eve. At first I curiously asked a Viennese woman why the holiday had such an interesting name, only to receive a shrug of the shoulders and an ich weiß nicht: ”I don’t know!” It turns out that December 31st is the celebratory day of the fourth-century Pope Sylvester 1 and the anniversary of his death. It may seem odd to honor a pope on a day that usually entails behavior of such wild abandon, but after all, the name Silvester in German is said to mean “wild man”. I think there ends up being more than a few of these men running around on such a night.

Lights on the Graben

A view of the Graben from a coveted window table in Café de l'Europe.

New Year's Eve on the Graben

Down on the Graben. The word means "trench" or "ditch", and was the boundary of the former Roman encampment of Vindobona. It's come a long way since then.

New Year's Eve on Spiegel Ln.

Lights over Spiegel Ln. (Spiegelgasse)

New Year's Eve on Kaerntner St.

A look down Kärntner St (Kärntner Straße)

New Year's Eve on Rotenturm St.

Looking toward Rotenturm St. (Rotenturmstraße)

Window Shopping

Window shopping on the pedestrian street named Kohlmarkt. For those trying to remember their German, that does translate as "Coal Market".

Hofburg Palace Fireworks

Fireworks after midnight at the Hofburg Palace

New Year's Eve Fireworks

A little taste here of New Year’s Eve from Stephansplatz: Behind the stage looms the great St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephandsom) — so Gothically dark as to be barely visible at night, even with fireworks overhead and the surrounding streets ornamented with lights. I apologize for the lack of finesse with this recording — it was New Year’s Eve, after all. Just think of it as somewhat of a natural perspective for some of us more… celebratory revellers.

The BEST holidays

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