Growing up, celebrating the holidays at home was important. The one year we didn’t spend at home is one we’ll all remember because of all the things that were out of the ordinary, like having to eat mashed potatoes without gravy. My brother and I were traumatized.
After spending a year abroad, where there were different holidays or holidays celebrated differently, I got used to things being a little out of the ordinary.
I spent Christmas in Romania with my Romanian roommate, which was really quite pleasant, but since I didn’t get to be in Salzburg for Christmas, I definitely wanted to be back for New Year’s Eve.
I knew there would be some celebrations in Salzburg that evening, but like many of the holidays there, I didn’t know what they really would be like until I arrived.
My friend Mary Beth and I met on the bus and headed to the Altstadt, the old part of town. There was a stage set up at Residenzplatz, where bands played throughout the night. Stands were set up with food and drinks, and as the new year ticked closer, we bought glasses of champagne and headed out to the river, where we could watch the fireworks fall over the Festung.
On our way to the river, we encountered all sorts of people with all sorts of fireworks that were being shot off in narrow streets going everywhere. This could never happen in America. I mean, this was dangerous. I don’t know how Mary Beth and I weren’t hit by anything, because we spent that whole walk dodging fiery bullets.
Mary Beth and I met again in the city center to find out what the celebrations would be like. We snacked on pretzels and pig-shaped donuts for good luck in the new year while enjoying the music.
They took the time to say “thank you” to the Americans visiting by playing “Edelweiss” from “The Sound of Music” and also honored the Italians in the audience with some Italian music.
A variety of traditional Austrian songs were played, but the evening would not be complete without a waltz, and in following tradition, this waltz should be “An der schönen blauen Donau” by Johann Strauss.
The audience was asked to waltz, of course, to the 10-minute long waltz. I swayed to the music as I filmed the dancing.
Und zwar, frohes neues Jahr!