The New Year

New Year’s Eve is on 31st December, the last day before the New Year begins. In many places, people go to parties, bars or restaurants with friends in the evening. Sometimes they meet outside in a big square. In New York, thousands of people go to Times Square; in London, they go to Trafalgar Square. Just before midnight, people look at the clock, and together they count the last ten seconds before the New Year begins: “Ten, nine, eight…”

At midnight they stand in a circle, join hands and sing an old song called “Auld Lang Syne”. A Scottish man called Robert Burns wrote the words of this song about two hundred years ago. It is about remembering old friends.

Many people drink a glass of champagne, light some fireworks, or dance until the sun comes up.

In Scotland, New Year’s Eve has a special name: Hogmanay. At Hogmanay, there is a tradition called first footing. The first person to come into the house in the New Year is the first foot: if he is a tall, dark man, and someone you do not know, he will bring good luck. He must carry some food, some money, or a piece of coal for the fire.

In Edinburgh, there are house parties and street parties, Scottish music and dancing, parades and lots of fireworks.

People often eat special food at this time. The traditional Scottish food for festivals is haggis, which is like a large round sausage, usually made from sheep meat.

New Year’s Day is 1st January, the first day of the New Year. It is a holiday for most people, and the banks and many shops don’t open. Many people stay at home on that day and rest. Most people go back to work on 2nd January, but in Scotland they have tow days’ holiday and go back to work on 3rd Janaury.

At this time of year, a lot of people make New Years’s Resolutions. They decide to do something different to be a better person. For example, they say: “I’m going to stop smoking,” or “I’m going to learn something new,” or “I’m going to work harder.”

The shops are very busy in January with January sales. This means things are cheaper than before Christmas, so it is a good time to buy winter clothes.

The first time people see friends in the New Year, they usually say “Happy New Year!”

(Text from Seasons and Celebrations  OXFORD BOOKWORMS 2)

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