The History of New Years Traditions

17 December 2018

The History of New Year Traditions in England, Scotland and Wales

The years just seem to fly by, and whether you are joining us on our New Year’s Breaks or spending it at home with your family, there are reasons why we do the weird and wonderful things we do at New Years.

New Year Kiss - International

Have you ever had that moment where your counting down from 10, looking into the eyes of the person you’re about to kiss and asked, Why are we doing this?


In English and German Folklore, it states that the first person you encounter in the New Year and the nature of this meeting at midnight sets the tone for the rest of the year.

A kiss between two people bonds them and by choosing someone special to kiss at New Year, helps you strengthen your ties to maintain a happy future.

If you don’t kiss anyone you might have bad luck in your future relationship. However, our advice is choose someone wisely or don’t choose at all, there are plenty of other opportunities in life to find someone to spend time with.


Celebrating New Year in Scotland or Northern England have many traditions, however, one of the biggest of these is the ‘first-foot. It is believed that the first person to enter your home on New Year’s Day will be the bringer of good luck for the coming year.

There are however rules:

  1. The person who enters your house, must not already have been in the house up-to midnight on the same day.
  2. The person who enters your house, must bring a gift

These gifts are intended to represent blessings; like a coin for financial success, bread for food, salt for flavour, coal for warmth or a drink for optimism.

Auld Lang Syne

'Auld Lang Syne' literally translates to 'Old Long Ago' the lyrics were originally published in 1787 after Robert Burns’ death and quickly became an international anthem.

Most of us sing Auld Lang Syne on the stroke of midnight each New Year’s Eve as a reminder to reflect on times past and move forward together.

At the end of the song you cross your arm across your chest, so your right hand reaches out to your left neighbour and vice versa, we cross hands and sing "And there's a hand, my trusty fiere" as we reflect on love and friendship in times past.

Calennig - Wales

Calennig translates from Latin to “the first day of the month” and is celebrated across parts of Wales each New Year. The tradition comes from old celebrations where children would call door to door to bear good wishes for the year to come. They would bring households gifts of fruit, corn or sprigs of evergreen and they would sing songs in return for the ‘Calennig’ (A New Year’s Gift). In more recent years the tradition is now celebrated with parties, free live music, fairground rides, and midnight fireworks displays.


New Year’s resolutions are the ‘goals’ we set ourselves to become ‘better people’, whether you want to eat better, drink less or become more organised, these goals set out our objectives for the year. However, if you are like me I set too many goals and end up forgetting what I set in the first place!

The tradition of resolutions stem back to 1894 BC and the Babylonians, however, the Romans introduced beginning each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named, this carried through to the medieval era and knights taking the "peacock vow" at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry.

My new year’s resolution for 2019 is simple… Travel more in the UK to discover the beauty we have on our door steps.  

Are you thinking of travelling in 2019?

We have launched our new brochure that can be viewed online or delivered to your door.

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The History of New Years Traditions

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