It is on my windowsill now, because I happened upon it while looking for something else. Placing it in full view is the desperate attempt not to forget it when the right moment comes. Again.
My ”Bleigiessen” set contains one round spoon and six little figures representing good luck: a little pig, a cat, a cent, a mushroom, a horn of plenty and a sun. These lead figures are melted one by one by placing them in a spoon over a candle. Once melted you quickly pour the lead into a bowl filled with cold water. As the lead solidifies you look for clues to your future in its new shape. Does it look like a heart, a baby, a crown or a star? Will love, offspring, recognition or good luck come your way the next year?
The right time to play this game, which appears to have been handed to us by the Romans, is “Silvester”, the last night of the year: the time of New Years Resolutions, watching the sketch “Dinner for One”, Fireworks and parties.
As a child I enjoyed the thrill of staying up late at night to see the clock strike midnight and watch the fireworks go off. We had Panettone , an italian spongy light cake with Sekt (the german champagne and yes, I was allowed a sip for the special occasion). From sixteen onwards I would go out , dancing the night away, getting cold out in parks and on fields, when it was midnight, time to watch the firework and wish a happy new year all around.
Every year there are calls to tone the fireworks down, to be more careful and possibly even ban them. But from teenager to family man to Grampa, they must have a go at coloring the night - undeterred by the danger of involuntarily setting a car, house or even themselves on fire.
Nowadays I prefer to watch from a distance and the safety and warmth of my house as the whistling rushes towards the skies and lights shower upon the world in red, blue and green sparkles. The question”Que sera” haunts me. We try to influence our destiny in Italy by eating lentils that promise wealth or in Spain by eating twelve grapes at each stroke of midnight and try to predict the future by pouring lead in Germany.
But the carousel of time is relentless and turns just a little faster with every year. No magic at the turning of the year will prevent or allow things to happen and yet we practice our hopeful traditions.
“Zwischen den Jahren” is the time after Christmas up to the 1st of January. It means between years. The words make it sound as if that could be a long time, but it just refers to the last five days of the year. Time does not stop, yet it slows down for a few frames, during which I imagine that I could really change the world for the better.
“Zwischen den Jahren” one said and the next said and the next and after many generations, lives and places these words come to me. With them my ancestors hope arrives at my door and I suddenly see their wishes that life by and by would become better, happier and easier were for me and are true.
“Zwischen den Jahren” I decide to think of those that come after me and what will be. What if our New Year traditions are about hope? I cannot abandon the hope of my ancestors, my own and that of my children.
I keep the “Bleigiessen” Set in full view and this time I will not forget to use it. Again.