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If you’re spending the New Year with an English family, you may be a little unsure of what to expect when you are asked to join in on their New Year’s celebrations. But never fear, inlingua Cheltenham will talk you through the key points and give you a survivor’s guide to the festivities.

The New Year’s Party

Some people to celebrate the New Year will go out on the town to party when the clock strikes midnight. This is great fun, but very busy. Instead many people will stay at home and have their friends over for a party.

It depends on the family as to the kind of party it is. Some are more sedate gatherings and others will be a raucous party where the food and alcohol is flowing. Other families will hold a New Year’s party that is more like a black tie party. Your host will be your guide and if in doubt of what to wear or what to bring – ask!

Your average house party will be different generations of the family getting together with lots of fun and games for the children, and music and dancing for the adults and maybe even fireworks for when the clock strikes midnight. Expect to be tucked up in bed by 2am.

Joy Of Missing Out

JOMO (Joy of Missing Out) is alive and well here, so if you really don’t feel like it because you’re tired or don’t feel like it and want to go to bed at 9pm then don’t feel too guilty – there’s always next year. An increasing number of people are doing this and if you have been partying solidly since Christmas Eve, perhaps this is a healthier way to start the next year.

Although disregard the above on JOMO if you are invited to your first Hogmanay party. It is not to be missed.

Auld Lang Syne

No party is complete without singing this at midnight. If you want to learn the words beforehand, then you can find them here (along with several other versions). The tune is easy and don’t worry if you forget the words – just hum along.

Everyone will come into a circle and hold hands while crossing their arms as they sing this. The song will usually finish and families will come together with a hug and a kiss and wish everyone a Happy New Year.

English Traditions

If you’re with an English family as a student, then they will be keen to show you some of the old traditions even if many people do not actually follow them anymore. Some people will open and shut the door on the final strike of midnight (to let the old year out and the new one in) and others will wait for their first visitor as the First Footing.

The First Footing is the first person to enter the house that year. Tradition says they should be a dark haired man. If they are carrying coal, salt and bread then this would mean that for the next year that there would be food, warmth and money. The visitor is also supposed to leave with the sweepings from the fireplace to dispose of to signify that they are taking the previous year with them.

As many other countries do, the English make their New Year’s Resolutions. With the New Year, brings hope for self-improvement and many people will resolve to live a healthier lifestyle. This is the time of year that smokers will try to stop, people will drink less alcohol and take up of gym membership increases. (Most new gym members will have quit by the end of February, so don’t worry, the wait for the treadmill won’t last long!)

People will also resolve to improve themselves by improving their second language or learning a new one, so for inlingua Cheltenham as a language school, this is a busy time for us with lots of enquiries and we do everything we can to help people achieve what they wish to.


This is the Scottish New Year’s Celebration and it is truly a celebration not to be missed. People come out to party in the streets. There is food and hot drinks and dancing. There’s parades with swinging fireballs, drums, fireworks as standard, but there will be depending on the town or city area-dependent customs which could be decorated fish or cakes given out to the children at the party. Of course Auld Lang Syne is sung and the party will go on all night.

Hopefully, this is helpful in helping you know what to expect for a New Year’s celebration in the UK. If you have your own traditions that you would like to share with us on December 31st, then please let us know in the comments below!