NEW YEAR IN ENGLANDCategory: Customs + Festivals
In England the New Year is not as widely or as enthusiastically observed as Christmas. Some people ignore it completely and go to bed at the same time as usual on New Year’s
Eve. Many others, however, do celebrate it in one way or another, the type of celebration varying very much according to the local custom, family tradition and personal taste.
The most common type of celebration is a New Year party, either a family party or one arranged by a group of young people. This usually begins at about eight o’clock and goes on until the early hours of the morning. There is a lot of drinking, mainly beer, wine, gin and whisky; sometimes the hosts make a big bowl of punch which consists of wine, spirits, fruit juice and water in varying proportions. There is usually a buffet supper of cold meat, pies, sandwiches, savouries, cakes and biscuits. At midnight the wireless is turned on, so that everyone can hear the chimes of Big Ben, and on the hour a toast is drunk to the New Year. Then the party goes on.
Another popular way of celebrating the New Year is to go to a New Year’s dance. Most hotels and dance halls hold a special dance on New Year’s Eve. The hall is decorated, there are several different bands and the atmosphere is very gay.
The most famous celebration is in London round the statue of Eros in Picadilly Circus where crowds gather and sing and welcome the New Year. In Trafalgar Square there is also a big crowd and someone usually falls into the fountain.
Those who have no desire or no opportunity to celebrate the New Year themselves can sit and watch other people celebrating on television. It is an indication of the relative unimportance of the New Year in England that the television producers seem unable to find any traditional English festivities for their programmes and usually show Scottish ones.
January 1st, New Year’s Day, is not a public holiday, unfortunately for those who like to celebrate most of the night. Some people send New Year cards and give presents but this is not a widespread custom. This is the traditional time for making “New Year resolutions”, for example, to give up smoking, or to get up earlier. However, these are generally more talked about than put into practice.
Also on New Year’s Day the “New Year Honours List” is published in the newspapers; i. e. a list of those who are to be given honours of various types — knighthoods, etc.