Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year celebrations

Today is the last day of the year and millions of people will be celebrating the arrival of the new year in many parts of the world. However, it will not be new year for everybody: the Jewish, the Muslims, the Chinese... even orthodox christian countries follow a different calendar.
Wherever January 1st is New Year, celebrations typically include big parties, fireworks and champagne. But there are many variations. Today, we are going to see what people in Britain do when the clock strikes midnight on December 31st.
After a special, copious dinner (at home or out) people get ready for the countdown. Many wear party hats and masks and blow noise makers. Some people go out to see the fireworks display while others prefer to watch them on television.

The fireworks in London are so impressive and so many people want to see them live that the authorities have decided to play it safe by restricting the audience. So, this year, if you want to see the fireworks live you have to pay 10 pounds, and you wouldn't believe it but all the tickets have sold out! If you want to see how impressive this display is, have a look at this video:

When the clock strikes twelve, people kiss each other, then make a circle and join hands as they start singing Auld Lang Syne, which is a traditional Scottish song that has become the hymn for New Year's Eve because it symbolises endings and new beginnings. The lyrics was written by the poet Robert burns in 1788, but the music is much older and its author unknown. The song is written in Scots, a dialect of English spoken in Scotland, that's why it's difficult to understand.
Singing Auld Lang Syne
In the following video you can read the original lyrics and a translation into modern English:

And talking about Scotland, the New Year celebrations there are called Hogmanay, and they stretch for two or three days. For the Scots, it's as important as Christmas. Hogmanay, whose roots go back to the old celebrations of the winter solstice before christianity reached these lands, is celebrated in different ways in each city or town of the country. In the following video we can see how they celebrate it in the capital, Edinburgh.

It goes without saying that after Auld Lang Syne, the music, dancing and champagne (or Cava) drinking goes on for hours till the early morning when you can see groups of people going back home to sleep it off.
And, like Ella Fitzgerald, I'll ask you: "What are you doing New Year's Eve?"

Happy New Year!


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