Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the EastWing.
As you recall on New Year’s Eve past, we talked about the things people say do and eat on New Year’s Day. We also talked about the things people do not say, do not do, and do not eat on New Year’s Day.
It was those conversations that caused my email mailbox to back up like Chicago’s Dan Ryan Express Way on a Friday afternoon, in the summer time, during rush hour, with road repair construction going on, in both the north and south bound lanes. Lots of email.
It turns out that the things people say do and eat on New Year’s Day are almost as varied as snowflakes. All the while the things people do not say do or eat on New Year’s Day are just a few snowflakes behind.
With little effort of recall, most of the those things I’d heard of before. Yet some were new and some were know to me but long forgotten. An example of that being, an EastWing Friend who happens to be a cousin of mine told the story of her father going out a midnight and shooting the shotgun. After reading her account of that, I remembered as a little hillbilly boy hearing my dad and his brother discuss shooting the gun at midnight. Something about shooting into the night to clear the way into the new year. I don’t recall my dad shooting, but he knew about the practice that’s for sure.
One of the New Year’s Eve customs I’d not heard of was the German pouring of the lead. A friend of mine told me about it. Having never heard of this practice and so enjoying research on and unknown topic, I hit the books. Except now it’s not the books, it’s the computer keys. In many ways the keys to the kingdom of knowledge. What I found was a story worth telling.
It’s a fun New Year’s Eve Tradition in Germany as families try to divine their fortune for the New Year by Bleigiessen, Lead Pouring. This is an ancient form of divination, also known as Molybdomancy, it’s been used for 1000s of years in many cultures. Now it’s mostly just for fun, although… there may be something to it…. Ya never know ‘bout things like these….
The more I researched this topic the more I became convinced I was walking in the shadow of the Twilight Light Zone. Kinda scary stuff to think many, many years ago people alive back then bought into this practice as a way to tell the future.
Originally, a small bit of lead or tin was melted, and then dropped in water. The form created by the metal is examined to determine the future. Some forms need you to be very open minded to say the least. Then, your fortune for the year is set. For instance, if the lead forms a ball (der Ball), it means luck will roll your way. The shape of an anchor (der Anker) means help is coming when you need it. But a cross (das Kreuz) can mean death.
Today, you can buy kits to make it the pouring of the lead easier. Since most people don’t have lead lying around. In the kit comes a spoon, some lead (often formed into celebratory shapes) a chart to help interpret the shapes, and a poem.
A candle is lit, and placed on the table. A bowl of water is also placed on the table. The chunks of lead are put in the bowl of the spoon, which is then held over the candle. The lead has a low melting point, so it melts fairly quickly. Then the lead gets poured into the water.
There seems to be a trick to this. Holding your spoon close to the water before dumping the lead gives it more of a shape. (I don’t know what the fortune gods think about taking multiple turns to get a preferred shape… so you may have to remember what others did in the years before to get what you want).
In der Silvester-Nacht
wird das Blei zum Schmelzen gebracht.
Es wird gekippt in Wasser, kalt und klar;
rate, was stellen die Figuren dar?
Schau sie an, so wie sie sind;
rätst die Gestalt du nicht geschwind.
Halt sie hinters Licht,
das Schattenbild dir mehr verspricht.
Kommt es dir nicht in den Sinn,
schau auf dieses Büchlein hin.
Es sagt dir frank und frei,
If you can read German, enjoy the poem. I do not read German, so I have no clue what it says. The research not only referred to a poem, it also had the above in close proximity to the reference to the poem. I took this to be the poem being referenced.
Sure hope there’s no dirty words in the poem. When I was a little hillbilly boy in downtown Toto, my Mama told me “never put on paper words you would be ashamed to speak to me in person”. I’ve lived with that thought in mind for every word I’ve ever spoken to paper. So here goes hoping this poem passes my Mama’s approval. I’m sure it will.
But Mama couldn’t read German either.
I Wish You Well,