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New Year's Eve in United Kingdom

Quick Facts

New Year's Eve, or Hogmanay in Scotland, is the last day of the year in the Gregorian calendar.

Name

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve 2014

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve 2015

Thursday, December 31, 2015
List of dates for other years

December 31 is known as Hogmanay in Scotland and New Year's Eve in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is the last day of the year, according to the Gregorian calendar, commonly used in modern times.

Many people hold or attend parties in the evening to bid the old year goodbye and to welcome the new year. The past year is also thoroughly reviewed in the media, including television and newspapers.

New years eve

Celebrations in London are festive and joyous on New Year's Eve.

©iStockphoto.com/ Sean Nel

What do people do?

Many people spend most of December 31 quietly. They may spend time outdoors, reading the reviews of the last year in newspapers or resting in preparation for the New Year's Eve parties that begin in the late afternoon or evening. People who host parties may spend a large part of the day preparing food and arranging drinks. In the evening, New Year's Eve parties usually go on for many hours, well beyond midnight. Some, particularly young people, may choose to spend the evening in pubs, clubs or discos. Although there are many who celebrate the event responsibly with moderate amounts of alcohol, some celebrate the event with large amounts of alcohol, which can lead to fights and other acts of foolishness in the early hours of the morning.

Just before midnight, people turn on a radio or television to see the countdown of the last few minutes of the old year and the display of fireworks just after midnight. At this point, people often hug and kiss each other, even strangers, and many start singing Auld Lang Syne, a poem written by Scottish poet Robert Burns. In Scotland, the Hogmanay celebrations may last for one or two more days, as both January 1 and 2 are bank holidays. In the rest of the United Kingdom, only January 1 is a bank holiday.

In Scotland and some parts of northern England, people may spend the last few hours of December 31 preparing to be or receive first-footers. The first person to cross the threshold of a house after the start of the new year is a first-footer. First-footers are usually men and in different areas have different physical characteristics, such as blond or dark hair, bring different kinds of luck to the household in the coming year. They bring gifts, such as whiskey, shortbread, coal and fruit cake, which are then shared among all of the guests.

Public life

December 31 is not a public holiday. However, schools are closed for the Christmas holidays and many people have a day off work or leave earlier than usual. Stores and post offices are generally open, but may close earlier than usual. Public transport systems may run to their usual schedule, but they may have a reduced service or close down totally in the late afternoon or evening.

In some big cities, public transport services resume services around midnight to enable people attending large scale events to return home safely. Entrance to pubs, clubs and discos may be by invitation or a pre-booked ticket only. Major train and bus stations may be congested as many young people travel to spend New Year's Eve and Day with friends.

Background

Midwinter celebrations have been held by the people of the British Isles since ancient times. These often included parties, special food and large fires to "tempt" the sun to return. After the introduction of Christianity, some aspects of these were included in celebrating Jesus' birth at Christmas. However, this was resisted by the Scottish Presbyterian church. For this reason, Hogmanay was the main winter festival in Scotland until the 1970s. Both Christmas and Hogmanay are now celebrated in Scotland.

Symbols

One of the most widely known symbols of New Year's Eve is the image of the Clock Tower at the Palace of Westminster, in London, counting down the last minutes of the old year. The first chimes of Big Ben, the bell housed in the Clock Tower, in the new year are broadcast live on radio and television. This is followed by a spectacular fireworks performance, often centered on the London Eye, which is claimed to be the largest Ferris wheel in Europe.

About New Year's Eve in other countries

Read more about New Year's Eve.

New Year's Eve Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday typeWhere it is observed
MonDec 311990New Year's EveObservance 
TueDec 311991New Year's EveObservance 
ThuDec 311992New Year's EveObservance 
FriDec 311993New Year's EveObservance 
SatDec 311994New Year's EveObservance 
SunDec 311995New Year's EveObservance 
TueDec 311996New Year's EveObservance 
WedDec 311997New Year's EveObservance 
ThuDec 311998New Year's EveObservance 
FriDec 311999New Year's EveObservance 
SunDec 312000New Year's EveObservance 
MonDec 312001New Year's EveObservance 
TueDec 312002New Year's EveObservance 
WedDec 312003New Year's EveObservance 
FriDec 312004New Year's EveObservance 
SatDec 312005New Year's EveObservance 
SunDec 312006New Year's EveObservance 
MonDec 312007New Year's EveObservance 
WedDec 312008New Year's EveObservance 
ThuDec 312009New Year's EveObservance 
FriDec 312010New Year's EveObservance 
SatDec 312011New Year's EveObservance 
MonDec 312012New Year's EveObservance 
TueDec 312013New Year's EveObservance 
WedDec 312014New Year's EveObservance 
ThuDec 312015New Year's EveObservance 
SatDec 312016New Year's EveObservance 
SunDec 312017New Year's EveObservance 
MonDec 312018New Year's EveObservance 
TueDec 312019New Year's EveObservance 
ThuDec 312020New Year's EveObservance 

Related holidays

Other holidays in December 2014 in United Kingdom

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