Austria’s New Year’s Silver Coin ‘New Year’s Customs’

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December 12, 2013 – The Austrian Mint will celebrate the coming of the new year with a 5-euro silver coin honouring some of the charming customs used to welcome in the year.

The reverse of the coin features someone cracking the whip (known as ‘Neujahrsschnalzen’) to banish the cold and bad spirits of the dark of winter. The person cracking the whip often wears an elaborate sun mask, seen over his left shoulder, hoping that the warmth of the sun will soon return. Also on the reverse are popular symbols of good luck and fortune: four leaf clovers, horseshoes, pigs and lucky white-spotted red capped mushrooms. The four-leaf clover is being poured from a source of molten lead, which is a custom known as ‘Bleigießen’ (lead pouring,) that is done at many events and homes, the various resulting shapes are interpreted much like the reading of tea leaves. Delicate snowflakes complete the design in this side.

The obverse of the nine-sided coin is the standard 5-euro design, with the denomination encircled by the shields of the nine federal provinces of Austria. In the center is the face value of 5 euros. Mint engraver Helmut Andexlinger designed both sides of this coin.

As a people rich in folklore, Austrians bring in the New Year by indulging in some of their most charming customs. As well as for giving gifts, it is a time for ensuring that the year to come will bring good luck and that the harshness of winter needs to be put on hold. The giving of a silver coin at the turn of the year is itself a time-honoured tradition in many countries.

The 5 euro silver coin has a diameter of 28.5 mm, contains 8 grams of fine silver and has a fineness of 800. The silver coin is available in special uncirculated quality and will have a maximum mintage of 50,000. Each of these coins is vacuum-sealed in a colourful and informative blister pack.

Further information on this and other products is available on the Austrian Mint website.

In this video you get an idea of the Neujahrsschnalzen.