January 01, 2008

#01-056: Happy New Year - Part II: New Year's Eve Traditions

engraving of old-fashioned-looking men drinking at a table with a barmaid nearby
Traditional Scots New Year's celebration

Note: We continue the look at New Year's traditions that we began in Lesson #01-055. Let's dig a little deeper!

Get Ready: What is one thing about your life that you'd like to change? Is "making a resolution" a good way to do that?

Some of the items below will further explain things that Adam told Mel in Lesson #01-055. Plus, there are a few surprises!

  • "Ring out the old, ring in the new": This phrase means we say "goodbye" to one year and "hello" to another. Often, we actually ring bells (or make other noise--see below) to do this. As part of this tradition, we have an image of the passing year as an old man, and the New Year as a baby.
  • Going to a friend's house: We usually ring out the old year and ring in the new with our friends. In America, Christmas Eve is spent with family, and New Year's Eve with friends. We usually have some food and drinks--especially champagne.
  • "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve": People at home often watch TV, especially as midnight approaches. One show that has been on the air since 1972 is "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve." The program shows people at parties all over the country, "from coast to coast," waiting for the countdown to midnight to begin. There are bands performing at the parties, and interviews in which the partygoers are asked about their resolutions (see below).
  • A countdown: This is a common feature of many parties. The most famous countdown in America, from Times Square in New York City, is seen on many TV shows. "Counting down" means starting at 10 seconds before midnight; counting backwards from 10; and when 0 is reached, shouting "HAPPY NEW YEAR!" Also, as Adam said, some people like to make a lot of noise. By the way, notice that "countdown" as a noun is one word; when used as a verb, it's two: "We turn on the TV and count down with some show."
  • "Auld Lang Syne": This may already have been a traditional song when it was written down by Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759-1796), or it may have been composed by Burns himself. After its publication, it became popular to sing on New Year's Eve. When Scots people migrated to America, they brought the tradition with them. The expression" means literally "old long since," and is understood as something like "the good old days." There were five verses to the song as it was published by Burns; few Americans know them all.
  • New Year's resolutions: Many people see the new year as a chance to begin again, so they resolve to do something different. They might want to stop smoking, exercise more, save money, or lose weight. Whatever the resolution may be, it's sad to say that most of them are broken before January is over!

The start of a New Year is a great time to get a fresh start!


Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auld_Lang_Syne

Practice: Match the following terms to the ideas below.

  1. a famous countdown
  2. an old man and a baby
  3. Auld Lang Syne
  4. champagne
  5. resolutions
  6. Ring out the old, ring in the new

  1. the good old days
  2. image of the passing year and the new one
  3. Times Square
  4. goodbye and hello
  5. promises, often broken
  6. a toast for the New Year

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for January 1, 2008

This lesson received 169 visits on my old site between December, 2011, and July, 2021.

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