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American New Year’s Eve Traditions

Each year, billions of people around the globe gather together to celebrate the coming of the new year. Across the United States, many celebrate by popping champagne and counting down the seconds until the clock strikes midnight. Check out some of the popular traditions you might come across with American New Year’s Eve celebrations!


Watching the “Ball Drop” in Times Square

Every year, about two million people gather in New York City’s Times Square to watch the famous “ball drop.” This tradition began in 1907 with a 700-pound ball that was slowly lowered down a pole until it reached the ground at midnight. Today, ball is 11,875 pounds and covered in sparkling Waterford crystals. For all of those unable to witness this annual tradition in person, the ball drop is broadcasted both nationally and internationally, with about one billion people worldwide crowding around their TV screens to count down the seconds until the ball reaches the ground in time to usher in the new year!

The New Year’s Kiss

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After counting down the seconds to midnight, many share a special New Year’s Eve kiss! The tradition stems from the belief that kissing someone at midnight will prevent loneliness during the coming year and ward off evil spirits!

New Year’s Resolutions


This popular tradition is infamously short-lived for many participants! That’s not to say we shouldn’t all strive to achieve a goal or to change our habits in the New Year. Many decide to set goals for themselves, such as staying fit and healthy, or spending more time with family and friends. No matter how it goes, it’s always fun to see how long you can make your resolutions last!

Hoppin’ John

Photo:  Epicurious

Photo: Epicurious

Hoppin’ John is a popular Southern dish of black-eyed peas, pork, and rice, eaten on New Year’s Day to bring good luck. The black-eyed peas are thought to symbolize coins. As a result, legend has it that eating this dish will bring prosperity and a year of good luck. The source of this dish can be traced back to slavery and the slave trade, and may stem from West African dishes.

“Auld Lang Syne”

This Scottish ballad penned by poet Robert Burns is a popular tune for Americans on New Year’s Eve. Despite being written over two hundred years ago, it quickly became associated with New Year’s Eve in the United States when a performance by singer Guy Lombardo and his band was broadcasted nationally 1929. Hollywood ran away with it, and the song soon became synonymous with the holiday!


  1. Ball Drop: The “ball drop” refers to the New Year’s Eve celebration in New York’s Times Square that features a large ball sliding down a pole until it reaches the ground at midnight

  2. (To) Ward Off (Evil Spirits/Danger/Illness/etc.): This verbal phrase refers to preventing something terrible from happening

  3. Short-Lived: Refers to something that lasts only a short amount of time

  4. Hoppin’ John: A dish in the Southern United States consisting of black-eyed peas, pork, and rice. Eating this dish on New Year’s Day is thought to bring good luck.

  5. Rumor/Word/Legend Has It: This idiom refers to popular beliefs that may not be true

Anna Deen.png


Anna Deen is a student at Washington University in St. Louis studying English Literature, American Culture Studies, and Communication Design. In her free time, she enjoys hiking in the mountains, going to art museums, and eating ice cream.

Other holiday traditions

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