I started off intending to write about the Austrian New Year’s Eve custom of Bleigiessen and learnt several things today. First, the posh name for the practice is molybdomancy: the art of divining the future from the shapes of molten metal that is quickly thrown into cold water. Second, this is not only an Austrian custom, but is widely practiced in Germany and in the Nordic countries as well. Apparently in Finland, the practice goes by the name of uudenvuodentina and is quite popular. According to this source, the practice originated in ancient Greece and later travelled to the Nordic and Central European countries where the custom is still followed today, although the results are interpreted more in a spirit of fun rather than being taken seriously. No wonder the word molybdomancy has been quite forgotten!
Originally made from tin, nowadays bleigiessen sets are sold in the streets in the week preceding New Year in small bags consisting of half a dozen pieces of tin or lead alloy mixed with cheaper metal. The pieces are molded into shapes associated with good luck; horseshoes, pigs, chimneysweeps, toadstools or 4-leaf clovers. I bought a bag for New Year’s Eve and settled down with six of my nearest and dearest to see what 2015 has in store for us.
As you can see, the results are outstanding! 2015 is going to be a wonderful year for the family; two of them will perform exceptional deeds, while the rest will be merely brilliant. I wish all my readers a similarly uplifting prognosis.