In today’s blog post, I’ll review the top five traditions from different parts of Europe, give suggestions about creative resolutions for 2017, and also give you lots of nice language for you to experiment with.
So, are you are still nursing that lingering(1) hangover, generally feeling sorry for yourself(2) and wondering what joys the New Year will bring? It’s time to reflect on(3) the previous year and smile inwardly (4) at your New Year antics.
Where and how did you spend yours? Face down in the gutter (5) somewhere? Quietly imbibing(6) a glass of wine? Both equally good options in my book.
I am now going to have a look at how others spent the evening of the 31st December and the 1st January so I can give you some hearty(7) recommendations for how you could spend your New Year, next year!
What’s it all about, UK?
1) THE UK NORTH: Scotland & Hogmanay
When most British people think of a quintessential(8) New Year they think: Hogmanay (well, I do anyway!).
The Scots ‘’go the whole hog’’(9) with Hogmanay starting on New Year’s Eve and continuing throughout New Year’s Day and the 2nd of January (which is a public holiday in Scotland). On the 2nd of January, the rest of the UK drag themselves like tired donkeys back to work.
i) First footing (also known in Manx Gaelic as ‘’quaaltagh’’ – and scores about a million in scrabble!) Nothing to do with climbing but, in fact, the Hogmanay tradition of, basically, throwing together a load of gifts such as coal, coins, bread, salt and whiskey, arriving at someone’s door, knocking three times, getting invited in, giving the gifts and receiving a drink – all in the name of good luck!
ii) Cleaning the house… like a spring clean but not.
2) THE UK SOUTH e.g. BRISTOL
Where I am from, New Year’s Eve it is a different kettle of fish(10) and people try NOT to talk about it. Hmmm. Mostly a) drinking until they become unwell b) falling over or c) falling over and being unwell. All of this is usually captured in hideous photos and press coverage as the ‘terrible state of modern Britain’ in the following days.
What’s it all about, Germany?
In Germany, they are a bit more ‘’out there’’ when it comes to New Year traditions. The one I like best is where Germans drop bits of hot metal into a glass of cold water and look at the resultant(11) lump(12) to get ideas about the shape of the coming year. The famous novelist, H G Wells had similar ideas.
What’s it all about, Denmark?
I’m sure that Health and Safety Officers around Denmark were cringing(13) as revellers(14) all over the country were jumping off chairs to see in the new year. It’s not clear why, but, is that any worse than the Brits drunken antics? The ‘’jury is still out’’(15) on that one.
What’s it all about, South Africa?
In South Africa, you might have been brained(16) by falling ‘’white goods’’. Believe it or not, it is traditional to throw old appliances, such as washing machines, out of the window. Not a good idea when you have ‘’a load’’ in because you just have to start all over again (and buy a new washing machine to boot!).
What did you do to celebrate? Any unusual traditions in your household?
New Year resolutions
It’s the second day of January (no one does anything on New Year’s Day apart from regret the previous 24 hours, right?) and everyone says ‘’I’m going to go to the gym!’’ The reality? Either they never do or they go for a fortnight and then give up. Sound familiar?
What about something more interesting and challenging?
Here are four suggestions which are closely linked to my wonderful hometown.
1) LEARN TO ACT: like Cary Grant did (born in Horfield, Bristol).
2) WRITE A BOOK! JK Rowling (born in Yate, near Bristol) did. She wrote her first book in Edinburgh! – probably not during the New Year celebrations as there may have been ”a slightly distracting noise” on those days.
3) JOIN A BAND! Like Portishead (formed, of course, in Bristol) Beth Gibbons did – 2 million copies of ‘’Dummy’’ sold across Europe.
4) LEARN A LANGUAGE, like English! Join us at British Council Poland when our new semesters start from January. You may even get a class with a teacher from Bristol i.e me!
(1) lingering (adj) = slow to end or disappear
(2) (to) feel sorry for yourself (phrase) = sad and self-pitying
(3) reflect on (something) (verb) = to think carefully and deeply about something
(4) inwardly (adv) = to do something in your mind or secretly
(5) Face down in the gutter (phrase) = lying in the street – often after drinking heavily.
(6) Imbibing (verb) – (formal or humorous) = to drink something, especially alcohol
(7) hearty (adj) = showing that you feel strongly about something
(8) quintessential (adj) = the perfect example of something
(9)‘’go the whole ‘’hog’’ (idiom) = do something thoroughly or completely
(10) different kettle of fish (idiom) = a completely different situation from the one previously mentioned
(11) resultant (adj – only before noun – formal) = caused by the thing that has just been mentioned
(12) lump (noun) = a piece of something hard or solid
(13) to cringe (verb) = to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed about something
(14) revellers (noun) = a person who is having fun in a noisy way, usually with a group of people and often after drinking alcohol.
(15) ’the jury is still out’’ (idiom) = used when you are saying that something is still not certain
(16) (to be) brained (verb – informal) = to be injured with a hard blow to the head or knocked unconscious