New Year’s Day is 1 January and the first day of the calendar year. The day is marked by a public holiday in the UK.
|2019||1 Jan||Tue||New Year's Day||National|
|2 Jan||Wed||New Year Holiday||Scotland*|
|2020||1 Jan||Wed||New Year's Day||National|
|2 Jan||Thu||New Year Holiday||Scotland*|
*Please refer to this note for Scotland-specific information.
New Year’s Eve in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales is celebrated by loud and happy groups of families and friends. Food and drink are featured and, at the stroke of midnight, the parties cheer loudly and make toasts (take drinks) in honour of the New Year.
At midnight people in almost every English-speaking country, and especially in the UK, sing the song ‘Auld Lang Syne’ to usher in the New Year. The song is a Scottish poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and is sung to the tune of a traditional folk song. ‘For auld lang syne’ is translated loosely to mean ‘for the sake of old times’ and many of the traditions surrounding New Year’s Day relate to taking out the old and starting things anew.
Traditionally, it has been believed that what you ate, did, saw or who walked over your threshold for the first time on the first day of the year would affect your luck for the rest of the year.
Town clocks and church bells sound out across cities, towns and villages and there are fireworks on the Thames. In Scotland, New Year’s Eve is also known as Hogmanay and in Wales, as Calennig.
A New Year’s Day Parade and Festival is held in London on 1 January and many boroughs compete against each other to have the best entry in the parade.
In the UK, New Year’s Day has not always been on this date. For a period during the middle ages, New Year’s Day was on 25 March and related to the occasion when the virgin Mary discovered she would give birth to Jesus Christ.
The Gregorian calendar was eventually adopted from around 1582 and the date of New Year changed gradually, from country to country, over the following century or so to 1 January.