Here are some fun New Year’s traditions listed in chronological order that span New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day and beyond. Some of the new year’s traditions on this list might have already been part of your childhood. If not, each one is an opportunity for you to embrace and pass down to the next generation in your family.
Have A New Year’s Baby
Every year, local media outlets send reporters to their local hospitals to report the first baby born after midnight. You need to get a head start with this tradition. If you want a famous New Year’s Baby, then plan on conceiving 9 months in advance. Set a reminder for April.
Decorate A New Year Tree
Have you ever looked at your Christmas Tree and felt like it needed a friend? Or perhaps you aren’t Christian and have Christmas tree envy? Either way, a New Year Tree is a fun excuse to decorate a non-religious tree to help celebrate the New Year. The tradition is very popular in several areas of the world including the former nations of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, Turkey, Vietnam, and parts of China.
Start decorating your New Year Tree late November or early December. Or just convert your Christmas tree into a New Year’s tree after Christmas.
- Soviet Union: After the 1917 Russian Revolution, religious holidays and celebrations were discouraged. As a result, the tradition of decorating a Christmas Tree was slowly replaced with a New Year Tree.
- Turkey: Between the lights and ornaments, it’s hard to tell the difference between a New Year Tree and a Christmas Tree in Turkey. But less than 5% of Turks are Christian. The overwhelmingly dominant religion in Turkey is Muslim. Pro Tip: Never call a Muslim’s New Year’s Tree a “Christmas Tree.” It’s incredibly offensive.
- Vietnam & China: In Vietnam, China, and other surrounding areas, a bamboo, flower, or fruit tree is traditionally used as the or New Year tree. In China, the tree is called a Nin Fa. In Vietnam, it’s cây nêu.
Watch A New Year’s Eve Movie
If you aren’t going out or hosting your own New Year’s Eve party, then a great way to spend the night is cuddled up on the couch watching New Year’s Eve movies. Here are some great movies set around New Year’s Eve in order of their release date.
- Ocean’s Eleven (1960): The original version of the heist film stars Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford, and takes place on New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas.
- The Godfather Part II (1974): Most people welcome a New Year’s Eve kiss at midnight. But not from a mafia boss. Al Pacino’s character gives his brother a “kiss of death” at a New Year’s Eve party.
- Trading Places (1983): This classic comedy featuring Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, and Jamie Lee Curtis takes place during both the Christmas and New Year Eve holidays.
- Happy New Year, Charlie Brown! (1986): Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Charlie Brown series already makes several appearances on MethodShop’s top movie lists. Well, here they are again with Happy New Year, Charlie Brown!.
- Sleepless in Seattle (1989): In this heartbreaking drama, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, Hanks plays a widower who wants desperately to talk to his late wife on New Year’s Eve.
- When Harry Met Sally (1989): Two friends, played by Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, spend years looking for love in separate relationships until they eventually find each other in an emotional scene that culminates at a New Year’s Eve party.
- Ghostbusters II (1989): When the Ghostbusters get trapped by Vigo on New Year’s Eve, it’s up to the citizens of New York City to free them with positive energy by singing the New Year’s Eve song, “Auld Lang Syne“.
- While You Were Sleeping (1995): Spend both Christmas and New Year’s Eve with Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman in this popular rom-com.
- Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001): This British rom-com both begins and ends on New Year’s Eve.
- New Year’s Eve (2011): This Gary Marshall film follows the various stories of an all-star ensemble cast that includes Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Jon Bon Jovi, Abigail Breslin, Ludacris, Robert De Niro, Josh Duhamel, Zac Efron, Héctor Elizondo, Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Seth Meyers, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Til Schweiger, Hilary Swank, and Sofía Vergara.
Dress Up For A New Year’s Eve Party
One of my favorite parts of New Year’s Eve is getting dressed up for a New Year’s Eve party. Dressing up for holiday celebrations has been a tradition for centuries. Break out your favorite cocktail dress or a nice sweater. It’s time to party like it’s 1999.
New Year’s Day Dinner & New Year’s Eve Food Traditions
Some of the most popular New Year’s traditions involve food. Different cultures associate eating certain foods to help bring good luck in the New Year.
- United States: In the US, most New Year’s Day dinner menus involve eating a traditional Southern meal for good luck. Each item of the meal is symbolic. Common food items include black-eyed peas (coins), ham or pork (prosperity), collard greens (green paper money), and cornbread (gold).
- Chili: In Chili, people eat a spoonful of lentils at midnight to help ensure prosperity in the New Year.
- Spain: At midnight, people in Spain frantically eat 12 white grapes during the first 12 seconds of the New Year. The 12 grapes symbolize luck, one for each month. Other countries like Cuba, have copied the 12 grapes tradition and adopted it as their own.
- Various: In multiple locations around the world, people will consume anything round during New Year’s. The circular foods symbolize the closing year coming full circle with the New Year. Meals with round foods typically feature donuts, pretzels, and other food items cut into circular shapes.
Toast With A Traditional New Year’s Eve Drink
Your New Year’s Eve toast doesn’t have to be with Champagne, Prosecco, or sparkling white wine. Here are some more traditional New Year’s Eve drinks to consider for your midnight toast:
- Mulled Wine: This traditional drink from Holland is usually served during Christmas and New Year’s holidays. It includes red wine, mulling spices, raisins, and is served warm.
- Wassail: A spiked English cider with Old English roots that often includes brandy or sherry and apples.
- Hot Pint: This traditional Scottish drink includes beer, nutmeg, eggs, sugar, whiskey and is served warm or hot.
Make Some Noise
In the American colonies and Wild West, it was traditional to shoot pistols or muskets into the air at midnight. Safer options that don’t involve guns include horns, bells, and fireworks.
New Year’s Eve Kiss
There’s an old saying in the Farmer’s Almanac that says, “Kiss the person you hope to keep kissing.” Good advice for both old and new couples. Personally, this is one of my favorite New Year’s traditions.
Sing The New Year’s Song “Auld Lang Syne”
After the midnight kiss, many people in Western countries will end their evening with an old Scottish song called “Auld Lang Syne“. Loosely translated, the phrase means “old long since” or “times long past”. Scottish people have used the song as a way to bid farewell to the current year. Over the centuries, the song spread throughout the United Kingdom and beyond. Auld Lang Syne contains multiple old English phrases and is almost impossible to memorize. Here’s a cheat sheet of Auld Lang Syne lyrics in case you need it.
Take A Polar Bear Plunge
Not all New Year’s traditions take place on New Year’s Eve. Polar Bear Plunges, for example, usually take place on New Year’s Day. We’re not such where the Polar Bear Plunge tradition came from, but it continues to grow in popularity as thousands of masochists put their bodies into shock each year jumping into freezing water.
Make New Year’s Resolutions
When you’re done cleaning up after your New Year’s Eve party and feeling less hungover, then it’s usually time to make some New Year’s Resolutions. What trait, behavior or habit are you going to change in the coming year? These are some of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions.
- Eat healthier. Eat less bacon, donuts, giant hamburgers, and other foods that are high in cholesterol, salt, fat, and sugar.
- Increase exercise, especially if you have a desk job.
- Find a new job, especially if you have a boss like in the film Office Space.
- Save more money. Spend less, unplug vampire electronics, use less gas, etc.
- Make more money with a side hustle. Start doing things like driving for a rideshare company, charging electric scooters, and selling items on eBay. All of these little things can all help you earn an extra income.
- Learn a new skill like blogging, hula hooping, or how to play craps.
- Quit something. Stop doing something that’s bad for you or dangerous like drinking, smoking, or texting and walking,
- Spend more time with family. Put family first and plan some fun activities for everyone… like a New Year’s Eve party.
- Read more. Dust off your Kindle or visit your local library. Studies have shown that reading gives your brain a good workout. It reduces stress, increases knowledge, improves memory, and fosters better writing skills.
What Are Some Of Your Favorite New Year’s Traditions?
All of the New Year’s traditions on this list will help make your New Year holiday more fun and memorable. What are some of your favorite New Year’s traditions or New Year’s Eve celebrations? Please let us know in the comments.
Frank Wilson is a retired teacher with over 30 years of combined experience in the education, small business technology, and real estate business. He now blogs as a hobby and spends most days tinkering with old computers. Wilson is passionate about tech, enjoys fishing, and loves drinking beer.