American New Years Traditions

New Years champagne and Auld Lang Syne
New Years champagne and Auld Lang Syne

There are as many different American New Years traditions as there are different backgrounds of Americans. The holiday is driven primarily by the calendar and not by any specific religion or ethnicity, so many traditions are mixed and matched.

Common American New Years Traditions

New Years Eve

For many people, the song "Auld Lang Syne", written by a Scottish man named Robert Burns in 1788, is the theme for New Years Eve. The song was originally popular in the United Kingdom where it originated. American bandleader Guy Lombardo popularized the song in the late 1950s through his radio and television broadcasts in the United StatesWhen "Auld Lang Syne" plays at midnight, many people partake in another New Years tradition, the kiss. The habit of kissing someone you love at midnight started as a superstition. People used to think if you weren't affectionate with your loved one when the new year began, you were destined to a loveless year ahead.

The same can be said for popping the cork on a champagne bottle at midnight on New Years Eve. People want to start the year celebrating in order to set a festive, prosperous tone for the coming twelve months.

One of the most popular American New Years traditions, and one that is viewed via television across the globe, is the celebration in Times Square, New York. Thousands of partygoers flock to New York City every December 31 to celebrate in the streets and countdown to midnight while a huge Waterford crystal ball descends a tower above One Times Square. This event is televised as part of Dick Clark's Rockin New Year's Eve program.

Boston started a more family-focused New Years Eve tradition in 1976. Boston's First Night is an evening of community events, art exhibits parades, and fireworks displays. Sixty American cities now host their own "first night" events each year. Firework displays are another tradition based on superstition. They were originally used in some countries to chase evil away before a new year began.

New Years Day

If they didn't do it the night before, many Americans make New Years resolutions on New Years Day. This tradition supposedly comes from the Babylonians who often resolved to return borrowed farm equipment on New Years Day. Many Americans view the new year as the time to dump a bad habit or make a fresh start. A popular New Year's resolution is vowing to exercise. Many gyms in the United States report a forty percent increase in members every January. However, thirty to forty percent of those new members will quit their exercise regimen by the following December.

While some Americans hit the gym on New Years Day, many others spend the day on the couch watching the annual Rose Bowl Parade broadcast live from Pasadena followed by hours of televised football games. The beautiful Tournament of Roses parade dates back to 1886. Every year floats and carriages are decorated with thousands and thousands of fresh, colorful, beautiful flowers.

Lesser-Known New Years Traditions

Two lesser-known New Years traditions were started in the South. In Texas, some people ring in the new year with a bang. At midnight, they go outside and shoot rifles into the sky. This is a very dangerous tradition, as what goes up must come down, and innocent bystanders have been injured by stray bullets.A much safer tradition concerns food. Some Americans consider it good luck to eat black-eyed peas on New Years Day. These peas symbolize wealth because they look like coins and because they swell when they are cooked. The swelling is considered a sign of prosperity.


Whether you are looking for love, prosperity, happiness or a new body in the new year, there is a New Years tradition to meet your needs.

American New Years Traditions