German Of The Day: Böller, Pfannkuchen, Pfefferspray

Silvester (New Year’s Eve) preparations are in full swing here in Germany, folks. So for any of you who might be enjoying the New Year’s Eve celebrations here tomorrow please keep these German words in mind.

Mace

Böller are firecrackers, usually big honking firecrackers, that Germans love blowing up for hours and hours and hours and hours on end, preferably blowing off a finger or two in the process. This is an ancient Germanic tradition that goes back to the Roman era. In Germania, Tacitus tells us, the Germanen often flipped off Roman soldiers during New Year’s Eve celebrations but, being drunk, were easily captured and then got their Stinkefinger cut off as punishment. After the Romans left new ways of removing fingers had to be developed.

Pfannkuchen or Berliner Pfannkuchen or just Berliner are pancakes, eaten in massive amounts around midnight. This tradition goes back to the 1950s when a Berlin housewife messed up an American doughnut recipe by forgetting to add the hole and putting way too much jam filling inside instead.

Pfefferspray is pepper spray or mace and is a new tradition that began shortly after last year’s Silvester celebrations, introduced in Cologne by another Kulturkreis (cultural circle), origins unknown.

In Sicherheit feiern – Mit Pfefferspray durch die Silvesternacht?

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