December 31, 2007

#01-055: Happy New Year - Part I: Talking about New Year's Eve

crowd with brightly-lighted theaters to either side and fireworks in the distance
Times Square at midnight on New Year's Eve 2012

Note: In this lesson, five expressions have been underlined. You can find further explanations of them in Lesson #01-056.

Get Ready: How do you celebrate New Year's Eve? Do you do anything unusual?

Adam, an American, meets his Chinese friend Mel for tea on December 30.

Mel: Hi, Adam. What are you doing New Year's Eve?

Adam: I'm going to a friend's house for a party.

Mel: What would you do if you were in America?

Adam: Probably the same kind of thing: a party at a friend's house.

Mel: You wouldn't spend it with your family?

Adam: No, we usually ring out the old year and ring in the new with our friends.

Mel: So, what would you do at the party?

Adam: We would usually have some food and drinks, and then have a countdown to midnight.

Mel: Any special foods?

Adam: No, just the usual party snacks, chips and dips, etc. But we do usually toast the New Year with champagne.

Mel: I see. What about the countdown?

Adam: Well, we usually just turn on the TV and count down with some show.

Mel: Any special show?

Adam: Well, every major channel has some show or another. Things are different now, but for many years, the most popular was "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve." In my grandparents' day, there was a band led by Guy Lombardo, first on the radio and then on TV. They played a song called "Auld Lang Syne" at midnight, so that's now a kind of traditional New Year's song.

Mel: Do people sing along?

Adam: Yeah, they usually do.

Mel: How does it go?

Adam: Well, the first verse is:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days of auld lang syne?

Then the chorus:

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne!
We'll take a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!"

Mel: What does it mean?

Adam: "Auld lang syne" is from Scottish Gaelic, and means something like "the good old days." So the song says, let's not forget the past, but instead, raise a toast to it.

Mel: OK. What about the next verse?

Adam: Uh…[embarrassed]…we don't really sing the other verses, so I don't know them.

Mel: Uh huh. I see. So, what else do you do at midnight?

Adam: Oh, when the clock strikes 12, we shout "Happy New Year!" There's a lot of hugging, and even kissing. Also, some people like to make a lot of noise at midnight: blowing horns, lighting firecrackers, and so on.

Mel: So, I guess that, except for the actual TV show, you can do most of those things right here in Shenzhen.

Adam: Yup! That's what we plan to do.

Mel: Have fun. And Happy New Year!

Adam: Same to you!

Don't forget to check out Lesson #01-056 for more about the New Year's traditions underlined above.


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Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. acquaintance
  2. champagne
  3. channel
  4. dips
  5. eve
  6. firecrackers
  7. fireworks
  8. midnight
  9. rocking
  10. toast

  1. manmade explosions in the sky
  2. sauces for putting on snacks (by sticking the snack into the sauce)
  3. a "location" on a television
  4. usually meaning "someone you know," but here referring to many people
  5. the night before a holiday
  6. a bubbly kind of wine
  7. small fireworks lit by hand to make a BANG!
  8. referring to a kind of music, here it means "having a good time"
  9. 12:00 at night
  10. short speech or other tribute to someone or something, often with a beverage raised in the air

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for December 31, 2007

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. d; 2. f; 3. c; 4. b; 5. e; 6. g; 7. a; 8. i; 9. h; 10. j