New Year’s Day in London
Soon it will be 2017, and what better time to look at British New Year traditions!
There are many old traditions which would be very unusual today, but are unique to this country. There are some others which aren’t so historic, but are probably the same around the world.
As in many countries, British people will go out on New Year’s Eve, and stay awake till midnight, when there will be fireworks all over the country. Even if you stay at home, the firework show from central London, near Big Ben and the London Eye, will be on the television.
Some people will invite friends to their houses, for New Year’s parties, which again will be very long and finish a long time after midnight. Here, you’re more likely to see some of the old-fashioned customs, including a famous song.
Auld Lang Syne
This song is a fixture at even quite informal parties. During the fireworks, a group of friends will stand in a circle, cross their arms, and join hands with the people on either side, bounce up and down and sing a song that most of them don’t understand. This is song is written in an old form of English called “Scots”. The lines that we can all remember go-
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never called to mind
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne”.
After singing this, many English people start singing “nan aa nan a nan aa nan a” to cover their memory loss. The lyrics basically mean that we should get together and have a drink, to make sure we don’t forget each other.
This may all sound very strange, and to be honest, lots of British people find it strange too, but it does still happen.
Another tradition, which might be known in more countries than just the UK, is that the first person in your house in the New Year is very special. In the past, a person would arrange to come round just after midnight, carrying a piece of coal, bread, money, and something green, like the branch of a tree. All these were to bring good luck.
They would be welcomed, and take away a pan of dust, or the ashes from the fire, to symbolise clearing out the old year.
This rarely happens these days, but in some parts of the UK, there are still fire festivals, where fire is carried through the streets to scare away evil spirits.
New Year’s Resolutions
Possibly the most famous tradition, though, is the making of New Year’s Resolutions, and this is still very common. The most typical resolutions last year were-
1. Go on a diet/lose weight
2. Go on a holiday or mini-breaks
3. Travel and see more of the world
4. Read more books
5. Drink less alcohol
Of course, most of these are not kept for very long- often given up in the first week of January.
What traditions are there for New Year in your country? Please let us know in the comments.