How To Talk About The Change Of The Year? New Year's Vocabulary

Tori Tornreviewed byNataliia Afonina / more about Editorial Process13 min
Created: Dec 29, 2022Last updated: Dec 15, 2023
New Year's Vocabulary

When you have already spent some time with your family and exchanged great gifts, Christmas is officially over. However, there is no reason to be sad. On the contrary, it means the year's wildest party is right around the corner! Let's get ready for New Year! 

We have no doubts that you will meet the new year at the best party in the company of the greatest people. You don't need our assistance with picking an outfit and inviting guests. However, we give you a hand to get your New Year's words list improved today! It's time not only to say goodbye to this year and welcome the upcoming year. It is also time to level up your English. Here is New Year's vocabulary list from Promova that will help you to sound more like a native speaker. Let this article be our New Year's present for you, dear!

The Most Relevant Words To Describe New Year: The Must-Know Vocabulary

You've probably already realized that learning all English words is impossible. There are so many topics to be covered, and so many words and phrases appear every now and then. However, there is a pool of words that you should memorize at a certain level. And speaking of New Year, you must know the following ones. 

New Year's Eve and New Year's Day

In English-speaking countries, New Year is a two-day holiday. Why? Simply because people want to celebrate both - the end of one year and the start of the new one. And the change of the year doesn't happen on the same day; technically, it takes two days. That is why you can often hear or read about people celebrating New Year's Eve on December 31st and New Year's Day on January 1st. However, while some people prefer to party two days in a row with no sleep in the same company, others plan to stay awake until midnight on New Year's Eve, go to bed for some time after the countdown, and celebrate New Year's Day with another group of friends or family. 

A toast/to toast

Giving a toast is usual at any celebration, and New Year won't be an exception. A toast is a tradition of raising glasses and drinking alcohol to honor an achievement or occasion, accompanied by a brief speech. For example, when someone wants to toast in the US, they tap a spoon against their glass to draw people's attention. Then, to let everybody know that the toast is finished and they can take a sip, people end their speech with "cheers." This exclamation expresses good wishes and calls to action.

A glass of bubbly

The traditional drink for New Year is Champagne. However, there is another slang synonym for it. The New Year's word for Champagne is bubbly, which comes from how it bubbles in the glass. So, don't get lost if someone asks you if you want a glass of bubbly at a New Year's party. Just say yes in order to have something in your hand to cheer with the crowd at midnight. 


On New Year's Eve, along with a glass of bubbly, always goes a sparkler, a small wire stick-type firework that people hold in their hand. Once it starts throwing off brilliant sparks, it becomes absolutely magical.


It won't be New Year's Eve without these cool sparkling things that explode in the air and create a mesmerizing image in the sky. Don't know what it's called in English? Those are fireworks. People love to watch fireworks shows for any celebration. And for New Year, it is undoubtedly a must-experience. So, don't forget to look out your window at midnight on New Year's Eve or watch one of the best fireworks shows from Times Square online. 


The following New Year's thing we will discuss is more likely to be seen in American movies from the 90-s. For instance, you had to notice it in the background of the famous Friends scene where Joey was crying about turning 30. Those long colorful stripes of paper used for decoration are called streamers. Nowadays, people don't really use them. But you still need to know what they are called in English to level your proficiency.


If you want to make New Year's celebration more colorful, you will definitely need confetti. Confetti is small pieces of colored paper or metallic material made for throwing in the air at celebrations. It's like a safe alternative for fireworks with no fire component included. On New Year's Eve, people use confetti all the time. You can surprise someone by throwing confetti in front of them or save it for midnight. They usually throw confetti along with a fire song at parties using a special device. 

New Year's Phrases And Idioms For Every Day

Words to describe a new year

For some reason, English speakers haven't come up with idioms directly related to New Year. Nonetheless, there are plenty of idioms about a new beginning and new start, which are basically what New Year's idioms should be about. We selected the best ones to help you expand your vocabulary this year. 

To turn over a new leaf

Meaning: to change your life in a positive way

Example: Everything that happened this year was a huge lesson for David. That is why he made a decision to turn over a new leaf next year.  

To start with a clean slate/sheet

Meaning: to forget the past and start fresh despite everything

Example: We moved to New York to start with a clean slate after Lily was kicked out of school.

To ring in the new year

Meaning: to celebrate the beginning of the new year when the year changes at midnight of December 31st

Example: My parents trust me a lot, so they had no second thoughts about letting me ring in the new year at Stacy's place. 

To shake things up a bit

Meaning: to change something in a good way

Example: New Year's Day is a perfect time to shake things up a bit. 

To kick off the new year

Meaning: to begin the new year

Example: Let's kick off the new year by getting married. 

To start anew

Meaning: to start doing something in a different way

Example: After recognizing Jenny forgot to buy Champagne for New Year's Eve, she decided to start making her grocery list anew. 

Out with the old and in with the new

Meaning: to get rid of old things or habits and starting fresh with new ones

Example: I decided to go out with the old and in with the new this year. So, girls, you won't see my ex anymore. 

New year, new you!

Meaning: to begin a year as a brand new person

Example: Yes, I dyed my hair right before New Year. New year, new me!

Today is the first day of the rest of your life

Meaning: to have an opportunity to begin something again, forgetting all the past

Example: Today is the first day of the rest of your life, so spend it wisely. 


The Most Popular New Year's Traditions

What makes a holiday a true holiday? Traditions! Without traditions, any celebration would be just another party with no sacredness or magic. That is why it is essential to pass down holiday traditions from generation to generation. So, let's take a closer look at the most popular New Year's traditions in English-speaking countries. Eventually, they are also a part of the New Year's vocabulary. 

Counting Down To The New Year

If you made it to the right New Year's party, you should be awake the whole night, not to mention the New Year's countdown, which is the most popular tradition of the holiday. People love to be able to follow the exact timing when one year changes the other. It is believed that something magical can happen on the verge of a change of the year. So, the culmination of New Year's Eve is the countdown, when people count backward from ten to midnight when the new year starts. The other New Year's traditions come from this one. 

Kissing At Midnight

Depending on your dating status, you might like or despise the tradition of kissing at midnight on New Year's Eve. Nonetheless, you can't deny that it looks so cute when everybody celebrates the beginning of the new year with a good kiss. 

The tradition of kissing at midnight on New Year's Eve comes from English and German folklore. It is believed that whoever you kiss at midnight portends the type of luck you will have the rest of the year. Of course, we don't want to scare you with such a superstition/tradition. However, it won't hurt to remind you about the movie Just My Luck where the girl switched her good luck for a bad one after kissing a guy at a masquerade party. This movie teaches us that the kiss should be shared between two people who really want it. So, don't kiss a random person on New Year's Eve just because of the tradition. 

Eating 12 Grapes

Eating 12 grapes on New Year's Eve is a fun tradition that comes from Spain. Spanish people call it "las doce uvas de la suerte," which means "the twelve lucky grapes." It is believed if you eat 12 grapes that represent the 12 months of the year with the clock bell strikes at midnight of the New Year, it will bring you good luck for the upcoming year. The tradition started at the end of the nineteenth century among Madrid's upper-class people. And only a century later, it spread to other countries. 

Making New Year's Resolutions

Since a new year equals a new beginning, people write their goals for the next year before New Year's Eve. Such tradition is known as making resolutions and dates back more than 4,000 years. It is believed that the first cultures that celebrated the year's changing made promises to pay debts or return borrowed objects. So, if they could do that, you can promise at least to drink more water, take care of your mind and body, and don't communicate with your ex. There are many achievable things you can write on your list. Making New Year's resolutions will set a tone for the whole year. It's like your initial to-do list for the upcoming year. 

Watching The Ball Drop In Times Square

The ball drop in Times Square is the most prominent New Year's tradition for the people of New York. Every year the giant Waterford Crystal ball on top of the Times Tower drops down after the New Year's countdown. It emphasizes the beginning of the new year. Millions of people, both in-person and in front of their screens, admire this event. 

The New Year ball drop tradition was started after Adolph Ochs opened a new headquarters of the New York Times in town. The newspaper owner wanted to celebrate the 1905 New Year big - with the fireworks show. And after several years of holding famous fireworks shows, the newspaper's chief electrician, Walter F. Palmer, came up with a new idea for the New Year celebration - building a time ball after seeing one. The first ball drop was held on December 31, 1907, welcoming 1908. Yes, the most beloved New Year's tradition among Americans is a bit older than 100 years. 

Words For New Year: What To Say To Your Beloved Ones

If it happens that you welcome the new year in a company of foreigners, and you all speak only in English, you have to prepare some words for New Year's wishes and toasts. Saying the simple "Happy New Year" is not enough; you can save it for the ending of your short speech to make it the last sentence. It would be much more presentable to wish people you are celebrating with something meaningful and inspiring. Because there are plenty of other New Year's words and phrases to be said on the first night of the year. Don't panic, we will supply you with some examples. Here they are:

- I wish you only happiness in the new year. Make it the best year of your life! Happy New Year!

- I'm so overwhelmed with the feelings right now. I'm just unspeakably delighted that you've been with me this year. Thank you so much, and happy New Year!

- Let's make every 365 days better than ever! Happy New Year!

- May we all find what we are looking for this year! The best is yet to come! Cheers to another year!

- Ready or not, new adventures are waiting for you this year. Don't miss any opportunities to reach your goals! To the new year!

Also, you can make a holiday toast using a good quote. For instance, let's take the words of the famous film director Steven Spielberg and turn them into an inspiring New Year's toast. We can say:

- As Steven Spielberg once said: «Every single year, we're a different person. I don't think we're the same person all of our lives». So, cheers for discovering new ourselves this year and making every day count. Happy New Year!

Learn New Year's Vocabulary With Promova

If the new year means a new beginning, then why not begin it with new vocabulary, right? Instead of adding to your New Year's resolutions list "improve my English," you can spend that couple of days before the change of the year already committing to that goal. And the language learning platform Promova can help you with that!

To start learning words related to New Year's celebration, you can download the Promova app. We provide our learners with bite-sized lessons that help them make the most of New Year's topics. For instance, on the app, you can learn Lunar New Year symbols in no time. Moreover, you can do it in English. No translation into your native language is needed. Acquire new vocabulary the way natives do it. 

The other option for learning New Year's words and phrases is to book a lesson with the Promova English tutor. We provide the best learning experience for our students. That means testing your English skills before the lessons begin, creating a personalized plan according to your strengths, weaknesses, goals, and interests, and exposing you to the language as much as possible during and after the class. Moreover, you can always request your tutor to explore a desirable topic, such as New Year's vocabulary. 

And a small bonus to all mentioned above is the Promova blog. We regularly write educational texts on the hottest and the most trending topics. If you like this text and want to learn more lexicon on winter holidays you can also read 19 Popular And Simple English Christmas Songs or What's The Secret Behind Santa Claus? History And Vocabulary List. Learning new words associated with New Year has never been easier!


New Year can become much more fun if you know how to talk about it in English. Plus, being able to express yourself on various topics is a sign of a higher proficiency in English. So, even if you are not ready to put yourself out there to celebrate New Year with English speakers, it still won't hurt to learn a few words to describe New Year. Remember that in language, there is no such thing as useless words. So, be prepared to recognize and use New Year's terms when needed. Happy New Year!


What winter holiday is more important – Christmas or New Year?

There is no one correct answer to this question because it depends on the perspective. As the biggest Christian holiday, Christmas can be seen as the most important winter holiday. After all, it celebrates the birth of Jesus. In addition, on January 25th, many families around the world gather together to spend some time in the family circle. 

At the same time, New Year is appreciated more among younger people because they throw an all-night party to celebrate it. This winter holiday involves more freedom, wilder activities, and chillax in general. Simply put, New Year has totally different vibes. 

Nonetheless, many countries traditionally perceive Christmas as the most important winter holiday. And it is not only about its religious background. Over the years, marketing and advertisements made their input in securing Christmas as “the most wonderful time of the year.”

Why do they call it New Year?

Just because. If you are looking for a more reasonable answer, you won't get it. New Year is a celebration that represents the fresh start of a new year, so it was logical to give it a simple name. However, New Year hasn't always been celebrated o on the night from December 31st to January 1. January 1st became the official date for the year beginning only after 153 BCE on the Roman republican calendar. Later, it was adopted by the Gregorian calendar. Pope Gregory XIII officially restored January 1 as New Year's Day in 1582. In the following years, most European countries gradually followed the new date. Modern New Year's Day begins the new solar year. 

Is there another name for New Year?

Even though there are more than 660 000 words in English, surprisingly, people haven't come up with any synonyms for New Year. However, people divided the holiday into New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. It makes the celebration planning a tad easier.

What is the New Year's symbol?

Like other celebrations or festivals, New Year has its symbols. Some are unique for particular countries, but some are common for most of the world. The first things that come to mind when someone asks about New Year are time, a new beginning, fireworks, grapes, nuts, pomegranates, and mistletoes. Nowadays, people can't imagine the New Year celebration without these attributes. Speaking of time and a new beginning, the most popular New Year's symbols in many countries, including the US, are Father Time and Baby New Year. The first one is usually portrayed as an old bearded man who carries an hourglass. While he represents the year that ends, Baby New Year symbolizes the start of the year that begins on January 1st. He is usually depicted as a chubby baby wearing only a diaper. 


Zane ScottOct 15th, 2023
the article adds a festive touch to english language learning
PromovaJul 13th, 2023
You're welcome! According to the article, some common New Year's vocabulary words and phrases that can be used to express New Year's wishes and resolutions include "Happy New Year," "New Year's resolution," "fresh start," "turn over a new leaf," "goal-setting," "celebration," "countdown," "champagne toast," and "fireworks." These expressions can be used to convey well wishes and aspirations for the upcoming year.
Tatum AcostaJul 13th, 2023
Thank you for sharing this article! What are some common New Year's vocabulary words and phrases mentioned in the article that we can use to express our New Year's wishes and resolutions?