UK New Year Traditions

Making New Years Resolutions by the BBC

This BBC resource provides a lesson plan complete with activities to support PSHE lesson on the new year and making resolutions

Where has the year gone?  It seems like just yesterday we were ringing in the New Year, and pretty soon we’ll be doing it all over again.
Whether you plan on partying in Preston, celebrating in Cardiff or getting glammed up in Glasgow, there are some traditions you won’t be able to escape. Here, we explain the stories behind some of the UK’s weird and wonderful New Year traditions.

Auld Lang Syn
Wherever you’re celebrating this year, chances are your New Year revelry will include singing Auld Lang Syne when the clock strikes midnight. Penned by Scottish writer Robert Burns in 1788, the lyrics were put to a traditional tune after Burns’ death and quickly became an international anthem

While there are many interpretations of the lyrics, it’s widely considered to be a song of reunion and reconciliation, encouraging us to reflect on times past and move forward together.

In the final verse, the song states: “And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!/And gie’s a hand o’ thine!”. At this point, it’s traditional to cross hands. Although many do this all the way through the song, tradition dictates that it should only happen after the line.

If you’re celebrating New Year in Scotland or Northern England, don’t forget about the first-foot tradition. This is the belief that the first person to enter the home on New Year’s Day will be the bringer of good luck for the coming year.

While it sounds like a simple tradition, there are actually lots of rules to follow! The first-footer must not be in the house at the stroke of midnight, and you’ll also need to consider who the first-footer will be. Traditionally, tall, dark-haired men are said to be the luckiest, while females and fair-haired men are believed to be unlucky in some areas of the UK.

The first-footer is expected to bring a gift too, like a coin for financial prosperity, bread for food, salt for flavour, coal for warmth or a drink for cheer.

New Year Kiss
What is New Year without a kiss at midnight? Although the tradition is common, there are a number of different beliefs around it. Some believe that the person we kiss at midnight will set the tone for the rest of the year.

Others believe that kissing a loved one at midnight will strengthen the relationship you have in the New Year. Some people also attribute the tradition to the masked balls that take place on New Year’s Eve in Europe.

The masks represent the evil spirits from the past year, with the kiss acting as purification once the mask is removed.
Who knew the midnight kiss could be so significant?!

New Year in Wales is celebrated with Calennig, a tradition which takes place on New Year’s Day. In the past, children would call from door-to-door bearing good wishes for the household for the year ahead. They would sing songs and carry skewered apples, with corn and sprigs of evergreen. In return, they would receive a Calennig, or a New Year’s gift. This would usually be money or food. This tradition is still followed in some areas of Wales

Fire festivals
If you’d prefer to heat things up this year, head to Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire, Scotland and experience the fireball parade. The free event dates back over 100 years and sees a parade of individuals swinging fireballs above their heads. It’s a real sight to behold — but why do they do it?

The parade is traditionally a cleansing ritual, with the flames said to burn away bad spirits from the previous year, helping to purify the New Year.

Making New Years Resolutions by the BBC


Nouns : Abstract Nouns


Nouns : Abstract Nouns

An abstract noun is a word which names something that cannot be experienced by the five senses.  You cannot see, hear, touch, smell, or taste.

Abstract nouns can be hard to spot. Take for example ‘laughter’. There is a point of view that says it is an abstract noun, a concept; others maintain that because you can hear it, it can not be an abstract noun…

Other similar examples exist, but it is not worth the worry of trying to figure it out. The best thing you can probably do is to arm your pupils with a list of confirmed abstract nouns and teach them the principle behind them being such.

Common Abstract Nouns

Showing Human Qualities or Characteristics

beauty, bravery, brilliance, brutality. calm, charity, coldness, compassion, confidence, contentment, courage, curiosity, dedication, determination, ego, elegance, enthusiasm, envy, evil, fear, generosity, goodness, graciousness, hatred, honesty, honour, hope, humility, humour insanity, integrity, intelligence, jealousy, kindness, loyalty, maturity, patience, perseverance, sanity, self-control,  sensitivity, sophistication, stupidity, sympathy, talent, tolerance, trust, weakness, wisdom, wit

Showing Emotions/Feeling

adoration, amazement, anger, anxiety apprehension, clarity, delight, despair, disappointment, disbelief, excitement, fascination, friendship, grief, happiness, hate, helpfulness, helplessness, infatuation, joy, love, misery, pain, pleasure, power, pride, relaxation, relief, romance, sadness, satisfaction, silliness, sorrow, strength, surprise, tiredness, uncertainty, wariness, weariness, worry

More Examples of Abstract Nouns

ability, adventure, artistry, awe, belief , chaos, comfort, communication, consideration, crime, culture, customer service, death, deceit, defeat, democracy, dexterity, dictatorship, disquiet, disturbance, dream, energy, enhancement, failure, faith, faithfulness, faithlessness, favouritism, forgiveness, fragility, frailty, freedom, grace, hearsay, homelessness, hurt, idea, idiosyncrasy, imagination, impression, improvement, inflation, information, justice, knowledge, law, liberty, life, loss, luck, luxury, memory, mercy, motivation, movement, need, omen, opinion, opportunism, opportunity, parenthood, patriotism, peace, peculiarity, poverty, principle, reality, redemption, refreshment, riches, rumour, service, shock, skill, slavery, sleep, speculation, speed, strictness, submission, success, thought, thrill, truth, unemployment, unreality, victory, wealth.

There is this useful  word list of abstract nouns with definitions which, in addition to simply defining their meaning, demonstrates how abstract nouns are used in context, .

Nouns : Compound Nouns

Nouns : Compound Nouns

A compound noun is a noun that is made up of at least two words: firewood, pet shop, jack-in-the-box, blackboard,post office, six-pack

There are three forms for compound nouns:

  • With Spaces: ice cream, water tank, printer cartridge
  • Without Spaces: footprint, stopwatch, suitcase
  • With Hyphens: merry-go-round, passer-by, daughter-in-law

There are no hard and fast rules on which form to use. Just be aware that many of the words exist in more than one form.

You’ll just have to look them up if there is any doubt, Google is as good as anywhere…

Composition of Compound Nouns

Though there is no need for pupils of primary school age to be aware of any of what follows, I have included it for interest’s sake…

Most compound nouns are made up of two nouns or an adjective and a noun. For example:

  • Noun + Noun: bath tub, witchcraft, seaman, wall-paper
  • Adjective + Noun: hardware, highway, full moon, whiteboard
Compound elements Examples
noun + noun bedroom
water tank
printer cartridge
noun + verb rainfall
noun + adverb hanger-on
verb + noun washing machine
driving licence
swimming pool
verb + adverb lookout
adverb + noun onlooker
adjective + verb dry-cleaning
public speaking
adjective + noun greenhouse
adverb + verb output

Nouns : Common Nouns & Proper Nouns

Nouns : Common Nouns & Proper Nouns

A noun is a kind of word that gives a name to  a person, a place, an object, an animal, a substance, a quantity, a period of time, a distance; the list goes on.

Everything around us is represented by a word that gives it its name and that word is called a noun.

The first major distinction to draw is between common nouns and supermarket.

Common Nouns

The common noun, is by far the largest group of nouns. The job of the common noun is to give a name to the everyday things all around us. Take a look around your surroundings and make a list of objects which you can see, the list will most likely be made up entirely of common nouns : chair, table, floor, pen, ceiling, ruler, paper, floor, tree, grass – the list is virtually endless…

Common nouns do NOT get capital letters.

P:roper Nouns

A proper noun is the name given to a specific person, place, object, animal, etc : Susan, London, Blackpool Tower, Rex).

Proper nouns ALWAYS get capital letters.

 Common Noun Proper  Noun
car Jaguar, Land Rover, Fiesta
forest Forest of Dean
cat, dog, budgie Tiddles, Fido, Joey
sea, ocean North Sea, Atlantic Ocean
pub The Blacksmith’s Arms
monarch Queen Elizabeth II
supermarket Tesco, Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s
tea PG Tips, Yorkshire Tea
cola Pepsie, Coke

Common nouns may be further subdivided into a number of categories; all common nouns will fall into at least one of these categories, For the purposes of the primary school classroom (in addition to common nouns and proper nouns) if a student can identify compound, collective and abstract nouns this is probably sufficient. The others have been included for the sake of completeness and interest:

  • compound nouns
  • collective nouns
  • abstract nouns
  • concrete nouns
  • countable nouns
  • non-countable nouns
  • gender specific nouns
  • verbal nouns
  • gerunds

Nouns : Gender

Nouns : Gender

Generally speaking, there is no distinction between masculine and  feminine when it comes to nouns in English.

However, gender is sometimes shown by different forms or different words when referring to some people or animals people or animals.

Masculine Feminine Gender neutral
man woman person
father mother parent
boy girl child
uncle aunt
husband wife spouse
actor actress  actor
prince princess
king queen monarch
waiter waitress server
cockerel hen chicken
stallion mare horse
bull cow cow
buck doe rabbit or deer

Many nouns that refer to people’s roles and jobs can be used for either a masculine or a feminine subject, like for example cousin, teenager, teacher, doctor, student, friend, colleague

  • Helen is my colleague. She is a teacher.
  • Phillip is doctor. He is my friend.
  • Darren is my cousin. He is a student.
  • Jenny is my cousin. She is a student.

Sometimes as a term of endearment non gender specific nouns are given gendered pronouns.

  • Dad loves his old sport scar . He takes her (the car) for a spin every Saturday;
  • Britain is popular with her (Britains’s) neighbours since the Brexit referendum.
  • Cruised across the Atlantic in the QEII ; she (the QEII ) is a fabulous ship.

Pronouns : Relative Pronouns

Relative Pronouns

 A relative pronoun is a pronoun that introduces an adjective clause.

In English, the relative pronouns are thatwhich, where, who, whomwhose.

  • Who and whom refer to people.
  • Which refers to things.
  • That and whose refer to people or things.

A relative pronoun is used to start an adjectival clause which describes a noun (also called a relative clause.).

The description comes after the noun to either identify it or give more information about it…

Identifying the noun
  • The man who invented zips became very rich.
  • I recognised  the car which was involved in the accident.
  • We did not see the dog that attacked our rabbit.

Be aware that a fair proportion of your readers will not like you using that for people. It is good advice to avoid using that for people, especially in formal writing.

Note : colloquially, that is often used to represent a person or people and who is used to represent an animal or animals; though neither is technically correct they seem to be commonly accepted… one for the Grammar Nazis, eh?

 Providing more information
  • My friend, whose birthday it is, will meet us at the cinema.
  • My dad’s car, which was covered in mud, was parked outside the house.
  • The elephant that was the biggest led the parade.
Who or whom?

The use who or whom depends upon whether the noun that is being replaces is the subject or the object of the verb. If the replaced noun is the subject of the sentence then we use who

  • The child who came first won a trophy.
  • The girl who was the teacher’s favourite was allowed out to play early.

if the replaced noun is the object of the sentence we use whom

  • The panel selected a winner, to whom they awarded the £5000 prize.
  • Phillip was the boy whom my mum really disliked.
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