Silvestr – New Year’s Eve

In the bleak mid-winter..... © Ricky Yates

Today is 31st December – New Year’s Eve. In Czech it is known as Silvestr as we discovered last year when the car park attendant at our local Billa supermarket wished us ‘hezky Silvestr’ as we gave him our ticket at the barrier. Sybille immediately knew what he meant as today is Silvester in German. And the reason for the name? In the Roman Catholic Church, today is the feast day of St. Sylvester/Pope Sylvester I who died on 31st December 335.

This post is really just a quick update on the things I’ve written about in my three previous December blog posts.


Not only did winter, with considerable snowfall, come early to Prague this year – it hasn’t gone away! We had a white Christmas with snow already on the ground and more fine powdery snow falling as we travelled to Church for our Midnight service on Christmas Eve.

Emu in the snow at Prague Zoo © Ricky Yates

Yesterday, rather than being cold and cloudy, it was fine; cold but sunny. So we went to visit one of Sybille’s favourite places – Prague zoo. The weather was perfect for the polar bears, North American bison and other animals used to snow and below freezing temperatures. However, I did feel somewhat sorry for this emu though I believe he was outside by choice.

Since well before Christmas, we’ve been planning to take the car to our good friend Adrian of Nepomuk in order to have four new ‘winter tyres’ fitted and a couple of other minor things fixed. But unfortunately, the weather has been so bad we just haven’t felt able to undertake the journey. Therefore, the poor ‘Carly’, as it has become affectionately known, continues to sit outside covered in snow.

The 'Carly' in the snow © Ricky Yates

‘On the Feast of Stephen’

Our broadcast service on BBC Radio 4 on 26th December had been very well received. As well as complimentary emails from various persons, known and unknown, one other very interesting statistic has emerged. Our Church website normally gets 10 – 15 hits a day. On Sunday 26th December it got 153 hits!!! If you haven’t yet heard the broadcast, you can still do so during the next two days by visiting the Radio 4 Sunday Worship website.

Christmas Carp induced flooding

We’ve dried out and all the electrics are working. However, we are still awaiting a visit from our neighbour’s insurance company’s appropriately named ‘liquidator’!

Happy New Year!

Frozen waterfall in the grounds of Prague Zoo © Ricky Yates

9 comments to Silvestr – New Year’s Eve

  • I’d love to hear the final stats on how many people listened. My Mom did – she loved it and said it was very beautiful.

    • Ricky

      Hi Karen,
      I don’t think we’ll ever know exactly how many people listened to the broadcast service. Previous audience research undertaken for the BBC indicates that normally, about 1.7 million people listen to Sunday Worship on Radio 4 each Sunday. Whether the audience was greater or less than that because it was the day after Christmas Day is an unknown quantity. But I’m glad your Mom enjoyed it & thank you for publicising the broadcast via your own blog.

  • Hi Ricky,

    Interesting post. I’m sure that most people don’t know the history behind the name of Sylvester for the New Year’s Eve. I didn’t know that they use that name in Germany as well.

    It being for the most part Protestant apart from Bavaria it’s kind of surprising.

    Nice winter pictures.


    • Ricky

      Hi Vance,
      Glad you enjoyed the post & the winter pictures.

      New Year’s Eve is ‘Silvester’ across the German-speaking world – not just Germany. This therefore includes predominently Roman Catholic Austria, together with the majority of Switzerland. I suspect the name pre-dates the Reformation & that you are not alone in being unaware of the origin of it!

  • Mystery solved. Years ago I was in Weisbaden for the holidays and I heard people talking about Silvester. I had forgotten all about it until I heard it the other day in Florida of all places. Until now I had no idea what it meant. Thanks for the answer!

  • Karin Shepherd

    WOW! Your pictures make me somewhat glad we visited last year and not this year! Here in Pennsylvania, it finally snowed…something we think is beautiful, but a bit nervous now about the 3 hour drive to the airport in Washington DC when leaving. (We leave for Ireland on 13th.) Glad your water problems sorted….and did I mention I also listened to your broadcast? Very nicely done, enjoyed it very much; sent it to a friend of mine. Happy New Year to you and Sybille!

  • Ricky

    Hi Karin,

    In the last 48 hours, the temperature has finally gone above freezing, we’ve had some rain, and the snow is starting to melt. But I doubt if we’ve seen the last of winter!

    Glad you enjoyed the radio broadcast on the BBC. We’ve now uploaded it to our Church website where you can listen to it again if you would like to.

  • That Emu in the snow looks so out of place! I live in south Texas where we have plenty of Emu on ranches but we very rarely get snow. Luckily the Emu’s can tolerate a wide range of temperatures. Thanks for the post!

  • I visited Prague a few years ago and although we got snow it wasn’t as much
    as in your pictures. The frozen waterfall looks amazing.