top of page

What are some New Year's customs that American's practice?

Happy 2024, and welcome back! As one tends to do post-holiday, I hope that you all had a marvelous and cozy holiday season surrounded by immeasurable love and the best of times, but now, we're launching into what looks to be a potentially exciting and adventurous new year, with the upcoming presidential election and so much other bombastic events happening across the world, it's sure to be anything but boring.

For now, though, we're keeping it nice and light here like we tend to do. This issue's question is naturally pertaining to any cultural practices observed by Americans at the entry to a new calendar year.

Q: What are some New Year's customs that American's practice?

A: Aside from the widely known tradition of the midnight countdown and ball drop on New Year's Eve the kissing at midnight (neither unique to the United States, of course), there are also plenty of others that range from the cutesy to the eccentrically odd, with some still broadly practiced today and others having fallen out of fashion and being observed by a mere handful of modern Americans.

Booze / Midnight Toast

No, not the bread kind of toast. Okay, maybe liquid bread (y'know, because yeast; har har), but yes, I believe this is another New Year's custom shared by other countries around the world, that being to booze it up during any New Year's Eve celebration, concluding with a toast after the strike of midnight, particularly with glasses of champagne after singing Auld Lang Syne. Personally, I'd like to see us follow Holland's lead and shift to mulled wine, but for now, champagne seems to be hanging on as the toaster's drink of choice.

Sparkly & Shiny Decorations

More of an older tradition, this does still have a presence here and there at various New Year's Eve gatherings, particularly of the larger and fancier sort. Tinsel and reflective streamers galore, the more the merrier, was a staple that I'd love to see become more common again. Who doesn't love shiny things?

The New Year's Resolution

Ah, a favorite that's as common now as it ever was. This, of course, is the vow to make a change in your life in the new year, adopt a new practice, oftentimes a healthy or positive one, or to drop a bad habit. What's not so common? Actually following through with and keeping it through the year. Womp womp.

No Cleaning

Finally, a custom that can be embraced by the lazy. This apparently stemmed from the belief that cleaning up on New Year's Day could "wash away" any potential good luck you might have going for you, especially from observing the other good-luck rituals, such as having cash in your pocket at midnight, eating a dozen grapes, opening the windows, and...

Eating New Year's Food

Normally done either at midnight on New Year's Eve or sometime on New Year's Day, there are certain foods that are customary to consume with the intention of bringing good fortune in the new year. Not sure what they do up north, but this kind of plate in the South usually consists of some type of cooked greens (collard, mustard, to represent dollar bills), black-eyed peas, some type of pork (oftentimes hog jaw, representing prosperity for some reason), and cornbread (for gold). Soul food to bring good fortune? Yummy. No wonder this one continues to be a mainstay.

And that's a wrap. There are more, but these are pretty much the heavy hitters. Hope you enjoyed, and once again, here's to the happiest and most blessed 2024 to you, dear reader, and we'll see you in two weeks! Cheers, and good fortune to all!


bottom of page