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Posts tagged ‘good luck’


So here it is – proof that KC got your back: KC’s All-You-Need-to-Know-About New Year’s – compiled over the years to keep you in-the-know and provide ample Vienna New Year’s 101 to enable you to blend in smoothly with the natives before everyone hits the Turbo Punsch stands. You’ve got time till Thursday night so no excuses. Get over the cookie hangover and get reading. Even if you aren’t in Austria – nothing says you can’t do crazy hats, waltz, good luck charms, Glühwein and the New Year’s Day concert where you are and make your 2016 New Year’s Resolution: “I’ll take the plunge and ring in 2017 in Vienna.”

  1. The Number One Most New Year’s City in the World: A must-read post. It’s all here. Complete with photos from my last New Year’s Eve.
  2. Melting Your Fortune Sculpture for the New Year: Everything you always wanted to know about the Austrian fortune-telling tradition of Bleigiessen (lead melting), including a complete why-to-buy, how-to-do-it, what is now being used  nowadays instead of lead and a list of blob fortune-telling interpretations so that once you melt your figure, you can actually interpret your future.

    Lucky Pigs

    Lucky Pigs

  3. Austrian Good Luck Charms and What They Mean: Got Glück? Good Luck Charms and Got Pig? Pigs (and other symbols) as Glücksbringer 
  4. Recipe for Glühwein in “How to Make Glühwein (Mulled Wine) and Spread Good Cheer.” I make a large pot of Glühwein every New Year’s Eve and keep it (along with a pot of my mean down-home chili) on the stove so that before and after the venture along the New Year’s Path, it is there for the taking.

Stay safe this coming New Year’s, have fun, wear a crazy hat and waltz!

Me - New Year's Eve in Vienna

Me – New Year’s Eve in Vienna with lit ears

Thanks for keeping with me this past year.
I wish you and yours all the best in 2016!




Melting Your Fortune Sculpture For the New Year

Twice in my life, I have had my fortune told by soothsayers. Once, at an esoteric conference in Washington, DC that my college roommate and I visited for lack of something better to do on a Sunday when we should have been studying for finals. As I innocently passed her booth, a babushka clad lady who looked otherwise sane, grabbed my hand, turned it over and demanded to know if the guy with us was my boyfriend. Undeterred by my doubtless shocked expression, she explained she didn’t want my money (she normally charged 20 bucks a reading). Obviously, this was an emergency, and it was her civic duty to warn me in a hushed voice and the most alarmed manner that the gentleman in question was completely wrong for me but there would be someone else in my future who I knew in a former life. And the gentleman in question shouldn’t fret because he and I would meet again in another life on Venus.

Heart metal figure on spoon being melted over a candle

Heart metal figure on spoon being melted over a candle

The second time was a Palestinian student who was in the States and studying medicine. She claimed to read coffee grinds and offered to read mine. Always a sucker for a good coffee, I obliged. She told me she saw me dancing with someone I got along with well and for my future she saw lots

Bleigiessen figure 2014-2015 - a dragon? A boat? A swan?

Bleigiessen figure 2014-2015 – a dragon? A boat? A swan?

of cows. Concerned I might be wasting thousands of dollars on a college education to harvest the land, I inquired further. She explained that cows meant a good fortune and my concerns about a future filled with wake-up calls with cow teats was unfounded.

Needless to say, I’ve become a bit skeptical about fortune telling. But alas, my romanticism perseveres over my skepticism and as well as being a sucker for a good coffee, I love the idea that someone can examine your hand and read some lines, or peer into a coffee cup and interpret your grinds or decipher the figure you’ve melted, and predict what lady fate has in store for you.

My fortune from last year - a bird

My fortune from last year – a bird – my hopes should have been fulfilled this past year – though he also kinda looked like a dragon

From December 26 – December 31, in addition to all the good luck charm kiosks you’ll witness springing up throughout Vienna’s first district, (Good luck charms definedPigs and why they’re lucky), you’ll also be seeing “Bleigießen” packages at the stands, and your local Billas and other grocery stores. (note for smart shoppers: the packages at Libro cost 2.49€, at Billa 2.99€ – same stuff). And though you may know that “Blei” means “lead” and “gießen” “to pour”, you might still not get why hanging amongst pigs, horseshoes, four leaf clovers, and chimney sweeps, are packages of rather bloated metal versions of these exact same figures along with a metal spoon with a wooden handle and a long list of objects and meanings

Time to fortune tell. Because in Austria, you won’t get a fortune cookie at a Chinese restaurant, but you won’t need to. You can tell your fortune for the coming 364 days every New Year’s Eve through the Austrian tradition of Bleigießen.

Me - New Year's Eve in Vienna

Me – New Year’s Eve in Vienna – pleased about a successful Bleigiessen no doubt (or maybe just some good Glühwein)

And no worries about subjecting yourself to lead poisoning by engaging in the holiday fun. It’s no longer lead being melted into indiscernible figures foretelling Austrian and Austriaficianado futures, it’s tin.

1) Package of Bleigießen figurines and Bleigießen spoon.
2) Bowl of water
3) flame (either candle or that nice little Bunsen burner kind of pot you use for the fondue)
4) Interpretation list (see below)
5) good friends
6) a creative, open mind


Holding spoon with figure over candle

Holding spoon with figure over candle

Sometime around 10 pm (give yourself time afterwards to go into the city) on New Year’s Eve, after you’ve amply stuffed yourself either with the mandatory fondue or raclette accompanied by some Austrian Vetliner, Zweigelt or Glühwein, you’re ready to get down to business. First you select your preferred tin figurine, place it on the spoon and place the spoon over a


Dropping hot liquid metal into bowl of water

flame. Let the metal totally melt and then toss into the bowl of water. Be careful with the tossing, the metal drips can get all over the place. Also, practice a bit a turn of the wrist can mean the difference between “watch out for thieves”, and “a baby is looming.” Try to keep your toss in one place, shorten the distance. Then use your imagination to interpret what your figure most closely resembles.


Figurines for Bleigiessen

Figurines for Bleigiessen

Anchor – help is on the horizon

Angel – Good will come to you

Antlers – Misfortune in love

Anvil – Care in career

Apple – trust will be broken

Axe – Disappointment in love

Bag – Unexpected luck

Ball – Keep your bad mood to yourself

Balloon – free yourself from your reins

Included list of fortunes told

Included list in Bleigiessen pacakage of fortunes told

Barge – Luck in your plans

Basket – Lucky in love

Beaker – conserve your energy

Bee – A wedding is looming (gotta love that the wedding “looms”)

Beetle – Nice love experience

Bell – An inheritance will be within reach

Belt – a friendship will deepen

Bird – Your hopes will be fulfilled

Boat – a voyage is on the horizon

Bomb – You’ll escape danger

Bottle – Happy times are on the way

Bridge – new obligations are coming

Broom – A conflict is looming

Bucket – contentment in relationships

Bush (not the former Pres) – Recognize the abilities of others

Butterfly – boundless luck awaits

Cake – A celebration is on the horizon

Camel – new tasks

Candlestick – A light will turn on

Car – promises an undertaking or a risk

Carnation – friends, pleasure, will come your way

Castle – Wishing for change

Cat – you will be spoilt

Chapel – Your strive for peace and quiet

Chicken – Careful of fire

Chimney sweep – Lucky in love

Chrysanthemum – Someone needs your help

Church – You will soon found a household

Clover – contentment and luck

Column – A wish remains unfulfilled

Cone – Care in transactions

Cow – Healing

Crib – Offspring are on their way

Cup – luck and health

Cylinder – Important things await you

Dagger – You will be victorious

Dancer – Don’t take life so seriously

Eagle – success in career

Ear – keep your opinions to yourself

Egg – You family will grow (surprise this one wasn’t “A baby is looming”)

Elephant – You have a lot of power for understanding

Eye Glasses – You will grow very old (hopefully not in a year’s time)

Falcon – someone is jealous of you

Feather – you’re at home with change

Fence – You will clarify a misunderstanding

Field– luck and contentment

Fish – people are talking about you

Fist – You feel beaten

Flag, waving – Head and heart are in different places

Flask – don’t tease anyone

Flowers – new friendships develop

Fork – Arguments and disputes

Frog – You’ll possibly win lots of money

Gallows – Protect yourself from false friends

Garden – A new love will cross your path

Gate – You will change residences

Goat – Expect an inheritance

Goblet – happy future

Gondola – An adventure will come your way

Goose – your luck is fragile

Guitar – secret longings

Hammer – You will go your own way

Hat – Good news

Heart – luck and health will come your way

Hook – obstacles block your path

Horseshoe – A good transaction awaits

Hose – You will be taunted

House – Your plans will bring success

Island – You are lonely

Jug – Inconveniences

Keys – Leave others their secrets

Ladder – You will be promoted

Lantern – Something will come to light

Ladder, broken – Make quicker decisions

Lips – sensual hours await

Lion – you will find friends

Lizard – A great ill will quickly clear

Marten (Marder – the weasel looking devilish creature in the Alps that likes to sneak into your engine and bite through all the cables and hoses and anything else rubbery (like brake lines!)) – protect yourself from thieves

Mask – show your true face

Messenger – a letter with important news will arrive

Moon – Honor awaits you

Mound – Success demands lots of work

Mushroom – You will be lucky in love

Nail – Better times are coming

Nest with eggs or birds – A happy home life awaits you

Oven – wealth is on the horizon

Owl – protect yourself from a horrible environment

Ox – you will win over powerful friends

Palms – a distant trip in a foreign land is on the horizon

Palm Trees – A long held dream will be fulfilled

Parrot – you talk too much

Pig – Lucky in play

Pipe – Careful! Danger ahead

Pistol – You will be disappointed in love

Plane – Much success in open competitions

Plate – You can be generous

Plow – You must work harder

Porcupine – Someone is envious of you

Pulpit – You are self-opinionated

Rhino – that which you pursued will be yours

Rocking chair – Make a decision

Rocks – A lot of work awaits you

Rose – joyful times are coming your way

Ruins – save up for the future

Sailboat – Good developments in your job

Saw – A decisive change is coming

Scale – plan ahead and you will be successful

Scissors – An important decision awaits

Sickle – Do not sneer at the small joys of life

Sheep – someone will try to use you

Shell – great responsibility awaits you

Shoe– You have a lot to do

Shuffle – earning a living is hard work

Sled – Use your connections

Slippers – You will soon marry

Sloth – All your dreams will come true

Snake –Someone is envious of your success

Spear – Someone wants to fight with you

Spider – Luck is dangle on a silk thread

Spike – Your dreams will come through

Sponge – cleanse your soul

Spoon – People are talking about you

Statue – You overestimate yourself

Steps – New challenges await you

Stick – Your life will change

Stork – A trip is on the horizon

Surfer – you will weather stormy waters

Sword – A decisive change

Table – You will be invited to a party

Teacup – You will receive a visit from a lady

Tent – an adventure awaits you

Tower – Believe in yourself

Train – Departure of a friend

Tree – your abilities will grow

Triangle – financial improvement

Trumpet – good prospects for the future

Tunnel – You will recuperate from a terrible shock

Umbrella – Avoid troubles

Urn – Don’t hang on the past

Vase – You will be popular

Vice – Be content, with what you have

Wall – Your perseverance pays off

Watch – time is money

Wedding ring – You will soon marry – or have an affair!

Weights – Success in career

Wheel – Big changes

Whip – You need a strong hand (must have been penned by Nietzsche)

Wreath – Amends in circle of friends

Wrench – hold tight to your good fortune

Zeppelin – Everything will work out

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Got Glück? Good Luck Charms /Glücksbringer (Good luck bringers)

Good Luck Charm Kiosk in Vienna

Good Luck Charm Kiosk in Vienna

“You know, Hobbes, some days even my lucky rocketship underpants don’t help.”– Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes

Lucky Pigs

Lucky Pigs

A long standing tradition in Austria is for people to give each other good luck charms on New Year’s Eve. So in Vienna as Christmas market kiosk owners seal shut boxes of unsold ornaments and nativity scenes, New Year’s market kiosk owners unpack boxes of plush pigs, chocolate chimney sweeps and plastic horseshoes. Good luck charm enthusiasts will exchange over ten million trinkets on New Year’s Eve and will individually dish out anywhere between 5 to 20 Euros for their charms. In fact 6 out of 10 Austrians can’t resist stopping when a New Year’s kiosk is near though I would wager that the number of Austrians who can’t resist stopping when a Glühwein stand is near is higher.


Chimney Sweep / Rauchfangkehrer (smoke catch sweeper, pronounced: Rawch fong carer): By freeing the chimneys of soot and grime, chimney sweeps reduced the risk of fires in the households and whose going to argue that not having a fire destroy all that you own is very good luck. Besides, those chimney sweeps do look snazzy in their uniforms. And this all reminds me of the song, Chim Chim Cheree, from Mary Poppins which I think it is high time to introduce to the Austrians (yes, English nannies fly around London singing with their umbrellas).

Chimney Sweeps

Chimney Sweeps

So watch the video AND the bouncing ball and engage in pure unadulterated fun for a whole two minutes and 41 seconds by closing your door, turning up the volume and stripping away all your inhibitions to sing along – who can be a sour puss after singing that? Check out just the lyrics if you want to practice some before hitting the karaoke bar with your Mary Poppins gig.

Four Leaf Clovers / Glücksklee (lucky clover, pronounced: Glue kss clay): Because they appear so seldom in nature, they bring good luck. And according to legend, Eve carried a four leaf clover with her when leaving the Garden of Eden.  Also, the clover is a symbol for the cross and should make secret wishes come true.  Remember the song: “I’m looking over a four-leaf clover That I overlooked before. One leaf is sunshine, the second is rain, Third is the roses that grow in the lane. No need explaining the one remaining Is somebody I adore.

Four Leaf Clover

Four Leaf Clover

I’m looking over a four-leaf clover That I overlooked before. ” (check out the Four Leaf Clover video in case you think KC’s finally fallen off her rocker) Imagine! You could do a Mary Poppins-Emmy Rossum medley. If you’re checkin out Emmy Rossum anyway, listen to Sentimental Journey – smooth and sultry to put you in the right mood for your New Year’s Eve celebrations – great stuff. And also, I recommend the Chevy Chase version of Four Leaf Clover that gets good by the second refrain.

Horseshoe / Hufeisen (hoof iron, pronounced: whoof ay sin):

Lucky Four Leaf Clover and Horseshoe

Lucky Four Leaf Clover and Horseshoe

In earlier times, horses were valuable working animals and the horse shoes protected them. If you hang a horseshoe above the door, definitely make sure you have nailed it in good and the open end is pointing towards the sky so the good luck doesn’t run out (don’t you hate when that happens?).

Lady Bug / Marienkäfer / Glückskäfer (Marian beetle / Good luck beetle, pronounced: Ma ree an Kay fer): The lady bug is called “Marian Beetle” in German and symbolizes a gift from the Holy Mother Mary to earth.  The lady bug protects the young and old, and heals the sick and weak. And, of course, killing or injuring a lady bug will bring bad luck, and not just for the lady bug. Perhaps lady bugs bring good luck because they have up to seven black spots on their backs and in German-speaking countries the number seven is considered lucky. So in Austria a cat has seven, not nine lives here (so go Anglo Garfield). If you are in love in German-speaking countries, you are hanging out on cloud seven, not cloud nine so check your country before picking your cloud.

Lady Bug with seven dots and Lucky Cent

Lady Bug with seven dots and Lucky Cent

Lucky Cent / Glückscent (pronounced: Glue kss cent): an old lucky cent was made of copper which was said to chase away black magic and strengthen the power of love. As protection from witches, people nailed a votive cent to the doors or their stalls. And if you carried a lucky cent in your pocket, it protected you from lies and trickery at the pub and cattle market. Something to consider next time you find yourself wrangling for some bulls at the old cattle market. And the reason why finding a cent is lucky (particularly if you manage to pick it up without herniating a disk, getting pancaked by a City Bike or tipping some shopping trolley wielding Oma with your derrière) is because all great things start small. “Wer das Kleine nicht ehrt, ist das Große nicht wehrt” He who does not appreciate the small is not worth the great.

Pig /Glücksschwein (good luck pig, pronounced Glue kss sh vine): See my entire blog entry about why the pigs bring good luck in Austria:  Got Pig?

Lucky Toadstools

Lucky Toadstools

Toadstool /Fliegenpilz (fly mushroom, pronounced: Flee gen pil ts):  In many ancient cultures (and in some not-so-ancient ones, ahem) poisonous mushrooms were used as hallucinogenic drugs and and were therefore considered a good luck charm (good luck if the toad stool didn’t kill you or cause you severe stomach cramping in the process, I suppose). And apparently, they are called “fly mushroom” in German because flies seek them out to get high. “Hey! Check out that shroom! I’m going in.” Who knew flies have drug problems.  And depending if they are used for good or evil, they can also be considered tools of the devil (“Now where did I put that toadstool?”).  In case you are dying to know this and more useless facts about toadstools, check out Amanita muscaria on Wikipedia

Kaerntnerstrasse Kiosk of Good Luck Snowballs in Vienna

Kaerntnerstrasse Kiosk of Good Luck Snowballs in Vienna

TIP: Buy your loved ones a good luck charm at a kiosk now until New Year’s at stalls popping up everywhere throughout the city or pick up a charm for yourself in Vienna on Tuesday, December 31 between 2 and 5 pm in the Chimney Sweep Museum / Rauchfangkehrer Museum in the Klagbaumgasse 4, 1040 Vienna. A glass of champagne awaits the adults and a chocolate chimney sweep the kids but maybe you can sweet talk your way to a chocolate or rescue a poor child from the risks of tooth decay by taking his or hers. To get there: take Tram 1 to Johann Strauß Gasse and walk 3 minutes (100 meters) or take U1 to Taubstummengasse and walk 11 minutes (600 meters)


Good Luck Charms Kiosk am Graben in Vienna's First District

Good Luck Charms Kiosk am Graben in Vienna’s First District

Read more here:

(in German) Article from the Austrian Krone Newspaper, December 26, 2012 entitled “Zehn Millionen Glücksbringer jedes Jahr verschenkt” (“Ten Million Good Luck Charms Given Away Every Year”)

A Johann Wolfgang von Goethe poem for New Year’s entitled “Zum neuen Jahr” – Goethe is simply great, isn’t he? Print This Post


“Glück ist meistens wie die Brille, nach der man vergebens sucht. Man findet sie nicht, weil man sie schon auf der Nase hat.“ (Luck is like eyeglasses that you look for but never find because they are already sitting on your nose). – Paul Hörbiger, Austrian actor who died in 1981.

“Nicht das, was wir sind und haben, bestimmt unser Glück, sondern das, was wir glauben zu sein und zu haben.” (Not that which we are and have determine our luck, but rather, that which we believe to be and to have). – Peter Rosegger, Austrian writer and poet (1843 – 1918)

“Dort, wo du nicht bist, da ist das Glück.” (There, where you are not, there is where luck is). – Franz Schubert, Austrian composer


Got Pig? Pigs as Glücksbringer – Schwein as Austrian Good Luck Charm

I am a great believer in luck. And I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” – Thomas Jefferson

Three pigs

Schwein gehabt!

If you ever spend New Year’s in Vienna (which Walter Cronkite loved to do and I highly recommend), you may find yourself wandering past the clean-up crews of the Christmas market at Rathaus and under others hanging up colorful banners across the Graben to mark the lanes of the New Year’s path. And while you mosey across the cobblestones still humming Still, Still, Still, you may suddenly also notice trinket stands popping up on every corner and in every subway station like mushrooms sprouting up in the forest after a rain. And if you stop to take a closer look, you will notice those stands selling dime-sized charms of four-leaf clovers, chimney sweeps, lady bugs, horseshoes, and… pigs.

Pigs? Yes. Pigs.

Don’t get me wrong. Austrians also have their own colorfully derogatory terms employing pigs to denote unsavory characters and behavior.

Viel Glück!

Viel Glück!

But this just evidences their conflicted relationship with their four-legged smashed-snout, squiggly-tailed friends. On the one hand, if an Austrian calls you a pig (Schwein), you have every right to kick ‘em in the sausage. However, if he calls you a good-luck pig (Glücksschwein), you probably have something to celebrate and will be on your way to a Beisl and some Ottakringers because you obviously hat Schwein gehabt (had pig).


Viel Schwein!

For centuries, pigs have been symbols of good luck representing wealth and prosperity. Got a pig then you got a meal. After all, pigs aren’t exactly high maintenance and demand no five star cuisines or upkeep. In Nordic mythology, the wild boar was considered holy, a pet of the gods and a symbol of fertility. For the Greeks and Romans, he who had many pigs was privileged and affluent. Archeologists have found helmets adorned with boar teeth and shield adorned with images of wild boars in the graves of ancient soldiers. And let us not forget the all-important piggy banks.

Therefore, I wish you all

Viel Schwein! – Much Pig! – Good luck!

Check out more Austrian good luck charms in my post on everything you ever wanted to know about Austrian good luck charms:

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