New year roundup


Danube is back after a well-earned rest. Hopefully you’ve had an enjoyably merry Christmas, or at least a pleasant week, and managed to not call any seven-year-old children “marginal”.

Did you eat lots of dessert? Do you know how much traditional Christmas desserts differ across Europe? If not, Taste Atlas can sort you out.

But Christmas is over. Now it’s that time of year when the media looks back at the past 12 months and forward to the next 12, and the public must endure whatever gets scraped together. Except on Danube, where we sort the diamonds from the dross just for you. So here’s the best of the best-of lists, reviews, predictions and whatnot.

Ahead of New Year’s Eve, The Guardian ran this excellent story on how Germans are divided over whether they should be allowed to unleash fireworks hell on each other for a few hours. It’s a grim read, actually, reporting all manner of terrible injuries inflicted. Elsewhere, police in Malmö are taking matters into their own hands in an attempt to keep the mayhem at bay, The Local Sweden reports. Both articles are included here as a gentle plea to be careful during the bacchanal, dear readers.

The Local has also been running listicles of the 10 most French stories of the year, the five ways Denmark caught the world’s attention in 2018, the 10 best Swedish long reads, etc. It covers Austria, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain and Switzerland too, so check out those websites as well.

Drugstore Culture magazine rounded up various British and American institutions’ Words of the Year, which included “incels”, “gaslighting” and “big-dick energy”. The latter is “an attitude of understated and casual confidence”, in case you didn’t know.

The Guardian chose its 20 favourite articles from its own long reads series, with topics including whether bacon causes cancer, how the English language is taking over the world (sorry), and how the merger of two spectacles companies based in France and Italy is creating a giant that will dominate a huge portion of that market.

Literature website Lit Hub analysed 52 lists of the best books of 2018, to find out which books appeared most frequently across them. The top two books, each appearing on 19 lists, were Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation and Tommy Orange’s There There. 

The UK’s favourite film critic Mark Kermode picked his 10 best films of the year, which included the multi-award-winning Polish film Cold War. As Kermode put it “It’s the films I couldn’t find space for in my top 10 that tell us what an exciting year it’s been.” Find other best-of lists from the Observer newspaper here.

Going highbrow, the London School of Economics’ Europp blog, which covers European politics, economics, culture and society, tweeted its top three (meaning most-read, presumably) posts of the year. Number three looked at “the deep malaise that now exists in Romanian society“, number two at what’s happened to Europe’s left-wing political parties and number one at whether immigration has increased crime levels in Italy.

Enough of 2018! A few outlets have also looked ahead to next year. Here are some that stood out.

For Vox, political scientist Cas Mudde predicted what we can expect from European elections in the next 12 months.

Lonely Planet picked its best places to travel, which included Germany and Belarus at the country level and Copenhagen in Denmark as well as Novi Sad in Serbia at the city level.

Finally, “colour institute” Pantone has optimistically named “living coral” its colour of the year for 2019, describing it as “vibrant, yet mellow”. It said: “In reaction to the onslaught of digital technology and social media increasingly embedding into daily life, we are seeking authentic and immersive experiences that enable connection and intimacy. Sociable and spirited, the engaging nature of living coral welcomes and encourages lighthearted activity.”

If Pantone is even anywhere close to the mark with that prediction, we’ll all breathe a sigh of relief in a year’s time, no doubt.

Words: Craig Nicholson

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