New Year celebrations

On the night of 31 December and the morning of 1 January, people in many countries all over the world will celebrate the beginning of a new year. How will they celebrate and how did this tradition begin?

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'For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.' – TS Eliot

New year, old celebrations

There have been celebrations to mark the beginning of a new year for thousands of years. Sometimes these were simply an opportunity for people to eat, drink and have fun, but in some places the festivities were connected to the land or astronomical events. For example, in Egypt the beginning of the year coincided with when the River Nile flooded, and this normally happened when the star Sirius rose. The Persians and Phoenicians started their new year at the spring equinox (this is around 20 March when the Sun shines more or less directly on the equator and the length of the night and the day are almost the same).

The oldest celebration

The city of Babylon in ancient Mesopotamia was where the first New Year's celebrations were recorded about 4,000 years ago. The Babylonians held their celebrations on the first new moon after the spring equinox and called this festival Akitu (which comes from the word the Sumerians used for barley). Barley was cut in Mesopotamia in the spring, and during Akitu there was a different ritual on each of the 11 days that the celebration lasted. Statues of the gods were carried through the streets of the city, and in this way the Babylonians believed that their world had been cleaned to prepare for the new year and a new spring.

Modern celebrations

In many cities all over the world, spectacular fireworks displays take place as soon as the clock passes midnight on 31 December. In recent years, Sydney in Australia has been the host to one of the first of these celebrations as New Year arrives there before most other major international cities. The display takes place in Sydney Harbour, with the Opera House and Harbour Bridge making it a stunning setting. Fireworks light up the skies in hundreds of cities as 12 midnight strikes around the globe.

Traditions that live on

There are a number of strange and interesting New Year's traditions around the world. In Scotland, New Year's Eve is called Hogmanay and 'first footing' remains a popular custom with people visiting friends' and neighbours' houses just after midnight. The first person who visits your house should bring a gift as this will mean good luck. In Spain, it is the custom to eat 12 grapes as the bells sound for midnight on 31 December. One grape is eaten at each sound of the bell and each grape is supposed to bring good luck for each month of the year ahead. In Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela and some other Central and South American countries, people wear special underwear of different colours on New Year's Eve. Red is supposed to be good for bringing love in the new year, while yellow is supposed to bring money.

Out with the old, in with the new

The new year is a perfect time to make a change for the better. The tradition of making New Year's resolutions is more common in the western hemisphere but also exists in the eastern hemisphere. This tradition involves a person making a commitment to change an unwanted habit or behaviour or setting a personal objective. Typical New Year's resolutions might be to give up smoking, eat healthier food, do more exercise, become more organised or laugh more – but really, a New Year's resolution can be almost anything. However, research suggests that many New Year's resolutions fail. Being realistic about the objectives you set and not making too many New Year's resolutions might help you to achieve success.

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Discussion

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Submitted by Zoula on Mon, 01/02/2021 - 15:57

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« How do you celebrate the new year ? » 2020 was a very complicate year. This New Year, I celebrated with my friends. But with not much people and we was made a test PCR (after the test, we know if we have the Covid-19 or not). So this New Year, I celebrated with a party, with a little part of my friends, and with no Covid-19.

Submitted by danisep on Tue, 12/01/2021 - 02:01

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With family, we gather in one house and listen to music. talk and laugh, share a feast and past warm time together, and before the year ends we make a prayer giving thanks for the old year and for the new. later we give us a hug and a new year celebration.

Submitted by Min Htet Kaung on Fri, 08/01/2021 - 18:33

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This year, as I have to work part-time job in Japan, I was at work when the new year arrived. There were no other enjoyable events because of the Corona Virus Pandemic. After my work, I climbed to the top of a hill in order to see the first rising sun of a year. I felt excited to see it from the top of a hill. It is breathtaking view.

Submitted by Onur on Tue, 29/12/2020 - 21:23

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Hello. I live in Turkey. If we decide to have it at home, we have been preparing amazing tables on 31th Decembers. Fine foods and drinks -particularly alcohol-. We sing songs, we dance. Also we have lottary for new year. We wait for results with excitement. On tv, there are lots of nice programmes take place on that night such as conserts, shows etc. We watch them. When midnight 00:00 comes, we start counting backward from 10 to 0 and we yell "happy new year" and we wish our wishes, give our gifts each other and celebrate. Happy new year all.

Submitted by Thinthinmyoe on Mon, 21/12/2020 - 11:35

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It was not usually strange the celebration of New Year for me.l sent many wishes to my friends in 31 December last year.In this year, l want to be some resolutions for the new year.I will try to carry out good deeds and think good thoughts as much as I can.I will try to be proficient in English.I will do work out regularly to be healthy and active.I will try to smile boardly and laugh heartily.

Submitted by OlaIELTS on Sun, 31/05/2020 - 14:01

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I celebrate New year by eating, drinking, having fun and making change for the better.

Submitted by Greta Thunberg on Tue, 07/01/2020 - 10:09

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Hi fireworks is not really great fot the enviroment so STOP IT please i beg you

Submitted by Kikii jesy on Sun, 05/01/2020 - 19:40

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Korea:i hang out with my members BLACKPINK and sing in concerts and be a secret santa and get them what they want and it is really fun sometimes we are with blinks and its the best we sing jennie cooks and lisa the funny one plays around with jisoo and i rose am helping jennie with cooking! Its funn

Submitted by Cheick Sadibou on Thu, 02/01/2020 - 22:13

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During the New year's Eve i use to hang out with friends at one's home. There we dance, drink and eat generally chicken. At midnight we share best wishes each other. But the problem with the young people is that everyone should come with a girl friend that night, and he who doesn't have a G F will not dare to show up to avoid the other's laughing.

Submitted by Pawani on Wed, 01/01/2020 - 12:14

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on january 1st I go to temple.

Submitted by TP on Wed, 01/01/2020 - 12:10

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Here in Sri Lanka, we celebrate two New Year's days. One is on 1st of January and other is on 13th or 14th of April. The first one is the western New Year which we mostly celebrate according to western culture mixed with ours. The second one is our traditional New Year. There are many traditions and customs related to this. They can be different from one part to the other in the island. However, most people love this time because it falls in Spring just after the harvesting season.
Your traditional new year day is the same as ours. On that day, do you throw each other with water? In our country, it is called Thingyan Festival, also called water festival.

Submitted by parisaach on Sat, 28/09/2019 - 06:56

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In my country we celeberate new year at the beginning of spring, when the weather is nice, and the trees bloom. Everything is so fresh, we clean our house and wear new clothes, some people buy new furnitures and some people want to change themselves. When the new year starts the family gather, they kiss and wish the best for eachother, and the holiday starts: offices are closed for 4 days and schools are closed 13 days. Many people go to a trip, others stay home and enjoy holiday, they visit their relatives and friends and trying to have good time. Most people like the new year celebration, no matter where, when and how. They try to change their lives in new year and enjoy holiday as much as they can, and it is a good time to rest and have fun after one year of hard working.

Submitted by iso on Thu, 07/03/2019 - 23:40

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In my country beginning of the new year believed that something will change for our lives.We go to temple to pray or confess sins that what we did last year.We confess our bad behavior what we did.after that family reward special food for me with relation .There are some fish dishes on a table .Some people climbing mountain to see first sun rise.There are so many people.I have never been there to avoid that.However it is a good opportunity start beginning of the new year.If I go to top of the mountain ,I might see breathtaking view.

Submitted by sebastian_96m on Wed, 13/02/2019 - 00:05

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Hi everyone, Here in Colombia, people make a big party in New Year celebration, we used to prepare some food like “Lechona, Tamales”, specially the last word. However, it is common to stay drinking beer and some alcoholic drinks until 6 am or after. Colombia is a few contries who celebrate a lot all December, the first celebration of December is 7 December... I recommend you to research a little of my beautiful country, you will not regret

Submitted by eirini on Sun, 27/01/2019 - 08:18

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Usually the 31 December is a very tiring day for me and generally the entire Christmas period, so i prefer to celebrate with my family at home ,listening to music, eating and drinking.

Submitted by asencu on Sat, 19/01/2019 - 19:28

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I was at home with my husband in 31 December. I decided to for new year. My decision is ' I will study english at least 30 min everyday. ' I generally study in learnenglish.bririshcouncil.org. Thank you so much all of them.

Submitted by bilaltay on Tue, 15/01/2019 - 18:01

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In my country, gathering are held in houses and in pubs and restaurants to celebrate the new year. Parties are also held in public places to celebrate.

Submitted by Edith Kangabe on Wed, 09/01/2019 - 14:29

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On the 31st of December before mid night I go to the church and attend mass to prepare to embrace the new in prayer with my new year resolutions.

Submitted by Alexander Bladeck on Sun, 06/01/2019 - 00:50

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It is very interesting to know the roots of this celebration. Although I notice that sadly have dark origins.

Submitted by sandragiron on Sat, 05/01/2019 - 17:19

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I am Sandra from Colombia. I have been living in The UK for many year and I am interesting to start a Master in the university, therefore it is necessary to do IELTS academic. I don't feel confident.

Hello Sandra

Have you seen our IELTS section? There are a few resources there, though I'd especially recommend visiting TakeIELTS, where you can find loads of information and even some free practice materials. Our Facebook page, which is updated daily, also has links to IELTS preparation materials from time to time. Finally, there are some YouTube videos on the British Council Teacher Trainer channel that you might find useful.

Good luck!

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Farrukh Maqsood on Sat, 05/01/2019 - 13:17

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Above article is really interesting related to new year celebrations in past history. I always try to celebrate new year with my wife as she plays an important role in my life. I put effort to make her happy by adopting different means. For instance, I gave her ring on last year eve and than we took a delicious dinner outside. I also made resolution that i will lost by belly fat by avoiding eating fats.

Submitted by Jaygabson on Fri, 04/01/2019 - 23:44

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My new was wonderful. I received friends and well wishers who came to celebrate with me. Thinking about how the year is going to be, I sat down gently at home thinking about what to do and how to go about my plans that I have drafted for the year. There were gifts from my friends and prayers were also offered to mark the beginning of the year and also, to achieve success in all my plans for the year.at this time of the year, resolutions were made but I think the most important thing to do is to ensure that all the plans that have been drafted out are carried out effectively through the help of God. The new year celebration was interesting and quite memorable.

Submitted by Camiladub on Fri, 04/01/2019 - 22:02

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Hi! We spent the first moments of this new year eating and drinking with family and friends. I like to watch the fireworks lightening in the ski. We also prayed God for a best year.

Submitted by Duzkoy on Tue, 01/01/2019 - 22:11

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This year new year is special for me to celebrate it i go to sömestre with my friend i danced with the music among a lot of people the music got into my inside my soul flied in the air without drinks

Submitted by simbahcm on Tue, 01/01/2019 - 18:37

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I recalled some traditional new year that I had when I was young. My mom said she would go to community market early where the sellers were also the farmers so she could have a good choice of fresh groceries. The market was always packed with varieties of food and flowers. Some of them we only see once a year on this holiday which makes it so special and memorizable. I don't hear and smell of gun power today. I used to lit firecrackers, wait it to burn down and .... BANG...someone terrified, someone excited...My new year eve was a joyful time when all my siblings gathered surround a campfire used for cooking traditional new year cake. We spent hours talking and playing and forgot how late we were into the night and when I passed out, my mom/brother would brought me home. I couldn't wait for the cake when waking up I would have it for my breakfast. I remember....

Submitted by anie1 on Tue, 01/01/2019 - 17:01

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Hello, I would like to ask which of the following is correct I am wishing you and your family the 2019 to be a healthy year OR I wish you and your family 2019 to be a healthy year Furthermore I wish you and your family is correct? Thank you in advance

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 02/01/2019 - 07:23

In reply to by anie1

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Hello agie,

The verb 'wish' is like the verb 'want' in that we very rarely see it in a continuous form. Here 'I wish...' is correct.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for your reply. In the following sentence is it correct t say: I wish you and your family the 2019 to be....? Thank you in advance

Hi agie

The structure is 'wish somebody something', so people usually say 'I wish you and your family a joyful and prosperous 2019' or something similar.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Earlytimenews on Tue, 01/01/2019 - 15:14

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I usually celebrate the first day of every year quietly at home and usually spend time with family in prayers and Thanksgiving to God for the opportunity of seeing a new year