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Austrian New Years Customs:  In 1691 Pope Innocent XII declared January 1 to be New Year’s Day. In Austria, New Year’s Eve is called Sylvesterabend, Eve of Saint Sylvester. He has his own punch made of cinnamon, sugar, and red wine. (see Legends) Taverns and inns are decorated with evergreen wreaths. Confetti, streamers, and champagne are part of New Year’s Eve. Evil spirits of the old year are chased away by the firing of morters called böller. Midnight mass is attended and trumpets are blown from church towers at midnight. People exchange kisses. There are fireworks in larger cities. In Vienna, the Straus operetta Die Fledermaus is performed every New Year’s Day and Eve at the Vienna State Opera, and an all Strauss concert is performed by the Vienna Philharmonic. (3)
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