New Year British Traditions

New Year starts at midnight on 1st January and is brought in with many celebrations. In Scotland this is known as Hogmanay and possibly comes from Norse and Gaelic observances of the winter solstice.

Families and friends around the UK gather to have parties and feasting. At midnight, fireworks are often set off, most traditionally in the big cities such as London and Edinburgh. The Scots can be seen walking through Edinburgh along the Royal Mile to Holyrood Park with flaming torches.

Big Ben is the nickname of the Great Bell and is at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London. Originally named the Clock Tower it was renamed in 2012 to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth ll, our Queen.  Typically, midnight of the New Year is recognised by the bell ringing out but since 2017 the bell has stood silent as renovations are taking place. It is finally due to strike midnight again this year, 2021/22 on the New Year.

We also welcome the New Year with a champagne toast and it’s traditional to sing Auld Lang Syne, an old folk song. Written in 1788 by Robert Burns, a Scottish poet, it is about remembering the good old days. In fact, the title of the song itself (auld lang syne) is Scots language for “times long past”. Although the song has numerous verses, most only know the first off-by-heart.


Should auld acquaintance be forgot

And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot

And days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear

For auld lang syne

We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet

For days of auld lang syne

Auld Lang Syne and champagne toasts are the most commonplace celebrations but there are some more specialised and slightly older ones too, such as opening the door of your house at midnight to let the old year out and the new one in.

Once the celebrations have passed on New Year’s Eve, each family tends to get together for a meal on New Year’s Day, which is a public bank holiday. Many people make New Year’s resolutions upon reflection of the previous year to undertake a task or give something up

In Wales a Welsh decoration is given to friends and families on New Year’s Day to bring luck during the new year.  This is called Calennig and the decoration is placed on the window sill or shelf. In Scotland, under the tradition “first footing”, it’s said that the first person to step foot in your home brings you luck for the year ahead. 

New Year's Vocabulary

Wishing You A Very Happy New Year!


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