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A New Year's Invocation

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,

Ring out the old, ring in the new.

Ring in the love of truth and right,

Ring in the common love of good.

Ring in the thousand years of peace.

         ~ The New York Almanac - 1870

 

 

This month's New Year Trivia deals with things new and "first".

Have fun and enjoy!

 

(To find the answers, hover your mouse over the party hats following each question.

Answers also appear at the end of the quiz,

in case Father Time walked away with the hats!)

 

The music you may hear from this page is the original Scottish melody to "Auld Lang Syne"

 

For prior years' New Year Trivia, see

New Year Trivia (2005)

New Year Around the World (20004)

1. The designation of January 1 as the start of the new year was first established by

A) The Roman Senate in 153 BCE
B) Julius Caesar in 46 BCE
C) Guy Lombardo in 1945
D) Pope Gregory XIII in 1582

1. B) Julius Caesar in 46 BCE


2. What is the name of the Rankin-Bass sequel to the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer TV special?

A) Rudolph's Happy New Year
B) Rudolph and Frosty: Happy at Last
C) Rudolph's Frosty New Year
D) Rudolph's Shiny New Year

2. D) Rudolph's Shiny New Year
 

3. Who or what is a "first-footer"?

A) The first person to dance at  a Baltic New  Year's celebration
B) The traditional gathering of old shoes on New Year's Day in Sweden for donation to the poor
C) The first person to leave a New Year's Eve party after midnight
D) The first person to cross the threshold after midnight at a Hogmanay celebration

3. D) the first person to cross the threshold after midnight at a Hogmanay celebration - a dark-haired gentleman is thought to bring good luck.


4. Which of the following foods is not considered (somewhere!) to bring good luck if eaten New Year's Day (particularly at midnight in some cases)? 

A) Black-eyed peas
B) Apples
C) Lobster
D) 12 grapes

4. A) Black-eyed peas – this is a tradition common to the Southern part of the United States, which says that the eating of black-eyed peas on New Year's Day will attract both general good luck and money in particular.  Cabbage is another food that is considered lucky. The cabbage has long been a symbol for prosperity (its leaves represent bills of paper currency). In many parts of the world it is considered to bring you luck if you consume rice on New Year’s Eve. Whatever food you choose, best wishes for 2006.

 

5. What was one of the festivals celebrated by the ancient Romans on January 1?

A) Annus Horriblis

B) Festival of Janus

C) Carpe Aesculapius

D) E Pluribus Unum

5. B) Festival of Janus - January is named after Janus, the Roman God of gates and doors, and hence of openings and beginnings.  Janus was always shown with two heads, or two faces. He looked back to the last year and forward to the new one.  January was the 11th month of the year in the ancient Roman calendar; in the 2nd century BC, however, it came to be regarded as the first month. On January 1 the Romans offered sacrifices to Janus so that he would bless the new year.

 

6. In Greece what is also celebrated on New Year's Day?

A) The Festival of Saint Agnes

B) Independence Day

C) The Festival of Saint Basil

D) Aristotle Onassis Day

6. C) The Festival of Saint Basil - Saint Basil was famous for his kindness, and Greek children leave their shoes by the fire on New Year's Day, with hope that he will come and fill the shoes with gifts.

 

7. Which ancient civilization celebrated New Year's by stripping their king of his clothes and sending him away?

A) Babylonian

B) Mesopotamian

C) Egyptian

D) Greek

7. B) Babylonian - The king would be gone for a few days and everyone would do whatever they liked. Then the king would return, in a grand procession, dressed in fine robes. Then, everyone had to return to work and behave properly. Thus, each New Year, the people made a new start to their lives.

 

8. What 'strange' custom is practiced by Japanese people at the moment the New Year begins?

A) They bow to the first animal they see

B) They sing 'Happy Birthday' to the New Year

C) They put a bowl of rice by their front door

D) They begin to laugh

8. D) They begin to laugh - The laughter is supposed to bring them good luck in the New Year.

 

9. What was the Celts' New Year Festival called?

A) Samhain

B) Hogswatch

C) Hogmanay

D) Shofar

9. A) Samhain - The word means 'Summer's End' and the festival was held on November 1st, which some say marked the Celtic New Year. It was celebrated with bonfires.

 

10. This band leader was well known for his New Year's Eve performances with his band, the 'Royal Canadians'. Who was he?

A) Glenn Miller

B) Guy Lombardo

C) Artie Shaw

D) Harry James

10. B) Guy Lombardo - Born in London, Ontario, Guy Lombardo traditionally welcomed the New Year at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan. Lombardo turned an old, odd Scottish tune into a New Year's Eve tradition when he and his Royal Canadians played their first gig at the Grill Room in New York's Roosevelt Hotel in 1929. The show was broadcast over the radio, Auld Lang Syne went out to Americans coast to coast, and you know the rest of the story.

 

11. What famous horror novel was published on New Year's Day?

A) “Frankenstein”

B) “The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”

C) “Dracula”

D) “Carrie”

11. A) “Frankenstein” - Mary Shelley's classic novel was published on January 1st, 1818.

 

12. What color flags are flown from buildings on New Year's Day in Central India?

A) White

B) Red

C) Black

D) Orange

12. D) Orange - This is just one of a variety of ways in which Hindus celebrate the New Year. For instance, the people of West Bengal like to wear flowers at New Year, and they use flowers in the colors of pink, red, purple or white. Women like to wear yellow, which is the color of spring.

 

13. Where is the New Year celebration called “Hogmanay” held?

A) Iceland

B) Scotland

C) Gibraltar

D) Malta

13. B) Scotland - Edinburgh's Hogmanay is the biggest New Year party held anywhere in the world and with four days packed with festive activities of all shapes and forms you might need the rest of the year to recover!  There are many theories for the origins of the word Hogmanay, including the Anglo Saxon 'Haleg Monath', meaning holy month, and the Gaelic 'Oge Maidne', meaning new morning. Whatever the origins, there are few places on the planet that know how to throw a better New Year's bash than Scotland.

 

14. What famous Scotsman published the New Year standard “Auld Lang Syne”?

A) Robert Burns

B) Francis Scott Key

C) William Wallace

D) George Buchanan

14. A) Robert Burns - Robert Burns was known as the “Bard of Ayrshire”, he died on July 21st, 1796, aged 37. An annual “Burns Night” is held on his birthdate, January 25th. By the way, “Auld Lang Syne” is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English-speaking country in the world to bring in the New Year.

 

15. What does Auld Lang Syne mean?

A) “Old long since”

B) “The good old days”

C) “Times gone by”

D) “Old friends from long ago”

15. C) “Times gone by” - The song recalls the days gone by and says we will always remember them. “Should auld acquaintance be forgot?'' it asks. No, the chorus replies: “For auld lang syne (for times gone by), we'll tak (drink) a cup o' kindness yet.”

16. What occurs during Watch Night services?

A) Hymns and prayers

B) The ball comes down in Times Square, New York

C) A New Year’s Eve party, with people counting down the final seconds of the year

D) Watching and waiting

16. A) Hymns and prayers - Hymns are sung and prayers offered in a rededication to God.  Many of the Watch Night Services in Black communities that we celebrate today can be traced back to gatherings on December 31, 1862, also known as "Freedom's Eve."  On that night, Americans of African descent came together in churches, gathering places and private homes throughout the nation, anxiously awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation had become law.  Then, at the stroke of midnight, it was January 1, 1863, and according to Lincoln's promise, all slaves in the Confederate States were legally free.  People remained in churches and other gathering places, eagerly awaiting word that Emancipation had been declared.  When the actual news of freedom was received later that day, there were prayers, shouts and songs of joy as people fell to their knees and thanked God. 


17. What is a First Night celebration?

A) A masquerade party on New Year’s Eve

B) A family-friendly, non-alcoholic New Year’s Eve celebration

C) A party held on the night of January 1, the first night of the new year

D) A children’s slumber party

17. B) A family-friendly, non-alcoholic New Year’s Eve celebration - Typical events might include musical entertainment, arcades, multi-cultural events, carnival attractions, ice sculptures, dancing, storytelling, theater, poetry, films and, at the stroke of midnight, an elaborate fireworks display.


18. In some cities and countries, what do they do with Christmas trees on New years day?

A) Chop them up and use them as mulch

B) Place them in the wilds as additional habitat for wild creatures

C) Save a branch, it away until the next year and then burn it with the Yule Log to represent the continuity of Nature's cycles

D) Make bonfires with them

18. D) Make bonfires with them.


19. Many cities towns in the United States, in imitation of the famous "ball drop" conducted annually at midnight on December 31 in Times Square, similarly drop items on New Year's Eve as part of local celebrations. What is dropped in Bangor, Maine?

A) A pickle

B) A purple beach ball decorated with Christmas lights

C) A live opossum in a cage

D) A giant M&M

19. B) A purple beach ball decorated with Christmas lights – A pickle is dropped in Mount Olive, NC and Dillsburg, PA; the live opossum in a cage is the choice in Brasstown, NC; Elizabethtown, PA drops the giant M&M.  Other unusual items include a conch shell, a pirate wench and a red high-heel shoe (Key West, FL), a mossbunker fish (Point Pleasant, NJ), a walleye fish named "Captain Wylie Walleye" (Port Clinton, OH), a  pretzel (Cleona, PA), a sled (Duncannon, PA), a stuffed goat (Falmouth, PA), a wrench (Mechanicsburg, PA), a cigar ( Red Lion, PA), an anchor (Shippensburg, PA), to name just a few.

 

20. What city is a countdown done with an elevator?

A) Chicago, IL

B) Tokyo, Japan

C) Seattle, WA

D) Paris, France

20. C) Seattle, WA - the countdown is done going up in an elevator at the Space Needle, with fireworks from the top of the needle at midnight.

 

21. The Jewish New Year is called?

A) Jewish New Year

B) Rosh Hashanah

C) Yom Kippur

D) Hanukkah

21. B) Rosh Hashanah - Rosh Hashanah means “beginning of the year”.  Apples and honey are eaten to symbolize a sweet new year. Rosh Hashanah celebrates the Jewish New Year and the creation of the world. It is one of the holiest days of the Jewish year. It begins the observance of the Ten Penitential Days, a period ending with Yom Kippur that is the most solemn of the Jewish calendar. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as the High Holy Days. The Bible refers to this holiday as Yom Ha-Zikkaron (the day of remembrance) or Yom Teruah (the day of the sounding of the shofar). The holiday was instituted in Leviticus 23:24-25.

 

22. When was the first new year holiday observed?

A) Greece

B) Italy

C) Babylon

D) Assyria

22. C) Babylon – The Babylonians were the first civilization to recognize a New Year, which lasted for eleven days, over 4,000 years ago. In fact, they began the tradition of New Year’s resolutions. While modern resolutions include the promise to spend more time with family, lose weight or quit smoking. The most popular Babylonian resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment.


23. What New Year tradition began in Greece around 600 BC?

A) Using a baby to signify the New Year

B) Toasting with champagne

C) Ringing bells at the stroke of midnight

D) Kissing your loved one
23. A) Using a baby to signify the New Year – It was their tradition at that time to celebrate their god of wine, Dionysus, by parading a baby in a basket, representing the annual rebirth of that god as the spirit of fertility. Early Egyptians also used a baby as a symbol of rebirth. The use of an image of a baby with a New Years banner as a symbolic representation of the new year was brought to early America by the Germans.

 

24.  There are a number of superstitions about welcoming a new year. According to A Dictionary of Superstitions, why does every door in the house have to be opened on the stroke of midnight?

A) So everyone can hear the chimes ringing in the New Year

B) To allow the old year to go out

C) So neighbors can enter, allowing everyone to celebrate

D) To symbolize openness and friendship for the New Year

24. B) To allow the old year to go out – And speaking of doors, visitor arriving before 12 must not leave by the same door through which he came.

 

25. According to A Dictionary of Superstitions, what should you NEVER do on New Year’s Day?

A) Throw out anything

B) Slap a friend

C) Drink water

D) Take down Christmas decorations

25. A) Throw out anything - "Never throw any ashes, or dirty water, or any articles, however worthless, out of your house on (New Year's Day). It betokens ill luck; but you may bring in as many honestly gotten goods as you can procure."

 

26. In which country do families dress a stuffed male doll with old clothes from each member of the family and then burn it, symbolizing forgetting all the bad things of the old year?

A) Hungary

B) Angola

C) Colombia

D) Yugoslavia

26. C) Colombia - Families stuff a life-size male doll with things that have bad memories or sadness associated with them, and then they dress it up in old clothes from each family member; then they set 'Mr. Old Year' on fire at the stroke of midnight. Burning "Mr. Old Year" is a New Year's tradition found among Colombians, Cubans, Puerto Ricans and Ecuadorians.

 

27. In which country do they eat 12 grapes as the clock strikes midnight (one each time the clock chimes) on New Year's Eve?

A) Canada

B) Vietnam

C) Spain

D) Israel

27. C) Spain - New Year's Eve in Spain is called "Nochevieja - The Old Night". Unlike many Spanish traditions the eating of grapes ("tomar las uvas") is of quite recent vintage. Early in the twentieth century, freak weather conditions resulted in an unseasonable bumper harvest of grapes. At a loss over what to do about so many grapes at Christmas time, the King of Spain and the grape growers came up with the idea of the New Year ritual.

 

28. In which country do people wear white clothes in order to have good luck during the new year and also go to the beach to jump seven waves and throw flowers in the sea while making a wish?

A) Italy

B) Spain

C) Brazil

D) France

28. C) Brazil - Most people wear white clothes on New Year's Eve to bring good luck and peace for the year that will follow. If they are in a beach city, after midnight people go to the beach, jump seven waves and throw flowers in the sea while making a wish. They say that the goddess who protects the sea will make their wishes come true. Because of that, some people also light candles in the sand on the beach.

 

29. Who said the "blast of January would blow you through and through"?

A) Milton

B) Tennyson

C) Chaucer

D) Shakespeare

29. D) Shakespeare - "You'd be so lean, that blast of January Would blow you through and through. Now, my fair'st friend, I would I had some flowers o' the spring that might Become your time of day." William Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale, Act IV Scene 4.

 

30. On New Years Day in 1962, this musical group auditioned for Decca Records, only to be turned down.  What group was it?

A) The Ink Spots
B) Aerosmith
C) The Beatles
D) The Jordanaires

30. C) The Beatles

 

31.  New Year’s Day is the official birthday of:

A) Alaska

B) Queen Elizabeth II, of England

C) Basketball

D) Every horse

31. D) Every horse - No matter what time of year a horse is born, its first birthday is recorded as the first day of January. So, New Year's Day is the official birthday of every horse.


(top)

 

Answers

 

1. B) Julius Caesar in 46 BCE


2. D) Rudolph's Shiny New Year

3. D) the first person to cross the threshold after midnight at a Hogmanay celebration -
a dark-haired gentleman is thought to bring good luck

 

4. A) Black-eyed peas – this is a tradition common to the Southern part of the United States, which says that the eating of black-eyed peas on New Year's Day will attract both general good luck and money in particular.  Cabbage is another food that is considered lucky. The cabbage has long been a symbol for prosperity (its leaves represent bills of paper currency). In many parts of the world it is considered to bring you luck if you consume rice on New Year’s Eve. Whatever food you choose, best wishes for 2006.

 

5. B) Festival of Janus - January is named after Janus, the Roman God of gates and doors, and hence of openings and beginnings.  Janus was always shown with two heads, or two faces. He looked back to the last year and forward to the new one.  January was the 11th month of the year in the ancient Roman calendar; in the 2nd century BC, however, it came to be regarded as the first month. On January 1 the Romans offered sacrifices to Janus so that he would bless the new year.

 

6. C) The Festival of Saint Basil - Saint Basil was famous for his kindness, and Greek children leave their shoes by the fire on New Year's Day, with hope that he will come and fill the shoes with gifts. f

 

7. B) Babylonian - The king would be gone for a few days and everyone would do whatever they liked. Then the king would return, in a grand procession, dressed in fine robes. Then, everyone had to return to work and behave properly. Thus, each New Year, the people made a new start to their lives.

 

8. D) They begin to laugh - The laughter is supposed to bring them good luck in the New Year.

 

9. A) Samhain - The word means 'Summer's End' and the festival was held on November 1st, which some say marked the Celtic New Year. It was celebrated with bonfires.

 

10. B) Guy Lombardo - Born in London, Ontario, Guy Lombardo traditionally welcomed the New Year at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan. Lombardo turned an old, odd Scottish tune into a New Year's Eve tradition when he and his Royal Canadians played their first gig at the Grill Room in New York's Roosevelt Hotel in 1929. The show was broadcast over the radio, Auld Lang Syne went out to Americans coast to coast, and you know the rest of the story.

 

11. A) “Frankenstein” - Mary Shelley's classic novel was published on January 1st, 1818.

 

12. D) Orange - This is just one of a variety of ways in which Hindus celebrate the New Year. For instance, the people of West Bengal like to wear flowers at New Year, and they use flowers in the colors of pink, red, purple or white. Women like to wear yellow, which is the color of spring.

 

13. B) Scotland - Edinburgh's Hogmanay is the biggest New Year party held anywhere in the world and with four days packed with festive activities of all shapes and forms you might need the rest of the year to recover!  There are many theories for the origins of the word Hogmanay, including the Anglo Saxon 'Haleg Monath', meaning holy month, and the Gaelic 'Oge Maidne', meaning new morning. Whatever the origins, there are few places on the planet that know how to throw a better New Year's bash than Scotland.

 

14. A) Robert Burns - Robert Burns was known as the “Bard of Ayrshire”, he died on July 21st, 1796, aged 37. An annual “Burns Night” is held on his birthdate, January 25th. By the way, “Auld Lang Syne” is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English-speaking country in the world to bring in the New Year.

 

15. C) “Times gone by” - The song recalls the days gone by and says we will always remember them. “Should auld acquaintance be forgot?'' it asks. No, the chorus replies: “For auld lang syne (for times gone by), we'll tak (drink) a cup o' kindness yet.”

16. A) Hymns and prayers - Hymns are sung and prayers offered in a rededication to God.  Many of the Watch Night Services in Black communities that we celebrate today can be traced back to gatherings on December 31, 1862, also known as "Freedom's Eve."  On that night, Americans of African descent came together in churches, gathering places and private homes throughout the nation, anxiously awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation had become law.  Then, at the stroke of midnight, it was January 1, 1863, and according to Lincoln's promise, all slaves in the Confederate States were legally free.  People remained in churches and other gathering places, eagerly awaiting word that Emancipation had been declared.  When the actual news of freedom was received later that day, there were prayers, shouts and songs of joy as people fell to their knees and thanked God. 


17. B) A family-friendly, non-alcoholic New Year’s Eve celebration - Typical events might include musical entertainment, arcades, multi-cultural events, carnival attractions, ice sculptures, dancing, storytelling, theater, poetry, films and, at the stroke of midnight, an elaborate fireworks display.

 

18. D) Make bonfires with them


19. B) A purple beach ball decorated with Christmas lights – A pickle is dropped in Mount Olive, NC and Dillsburg, PA; the live opossum in a cage is the choice in Brasstown, NC; Elizabethtown, PA drops the giant M&M.  Other unusual items include a conch shell, a pirate wench and a red high-heel shoe (Key West, FL), a mossbunker fish (Point Pleasant, NJ), a walleye fish named "Captain Wylie Walleye" (Port Clinton, OH), a  pretzel (Cleona, PA), a sled (Duncannon, PA), a stuffed goat (Falmouth, PA), a wrench (Mechanicsburg, PA), a cigar ( Red Lion, PA), an anchor (Shippensburg, PA), to name just a few.

 

20. C) Seattle, WA - the countdown is done going up in an elevator at the Space Needle, with fireworks from the top of the needle at midnight.

 

21. B) Rosh Hashanah - Rosh Hashanah means “beginning of the year”.  Apples and honey are eaten to symbolize a sweet new year. Rosh Hashanah celebrates the Jewish New Year and the creation of the world. It is one of the holiest days of the Jewish year. It begins the observance of the Ten Penitential Days, a period ending with Yom Kippur that is the most solemn of the Jewish calendar. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as the High Holy Days. The Bible refers to this holiday as Yom Ha-Zikkaron (the day of remembrance) or Yom Teruah (the day of the sounding of the shofar). The holiday was instituted in Leviticus 23:24-25.

 

22. C) Babylon – The Babylonians were the first civilization to recognize a New Year, which lasted for eleven days, over 4,000 years ago. In fact, they began the tradition of New Year’s resolutions. While modern resolutions include the promise to spend more time with family, lose weight or quit smoking. The most popular Babylonian resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment.


23. A) Using a baby to signify the New Year – It was their tradition at that time to celebrate their god of wine, Dionysus, by parading a baby in a basket, representing the annual rebirth of that god as the spirit of fertility. Early Egyptians also used a baby as a symbol of rebirth. The use of an image of a baby with a New Years banner as a symbolic representation of the new year was brought to early America by the Germans.

 

24. B) To allow the old year to go out – And speaking of doors, visitor arriving before 12 must not leave by the same door through which he came.

 

25. A) Throw out anything - "Never throw any ashes, or dirty water, or any articles, however worthless, out of your house on (New Year's Day). It betokens ill luck; but you may bring in as many honestly gotten goods as you can procure."

 

26. C) Colombia - Families stuff a life-size male doll with things that have bad memories or sadness associated with them, and then they dress it up in old clothes from each family member; then they set 'Mr. Old Year' on fire at the stroke of midnight. Burning "Mr. Old Year" is a New Year's tradition found among Colombians, Cubans, Puerto Ricans and Ecuadorians.

 

27. C) Spain - New Year's Eve in Spain is called "Nochevieja - The Old Night". Unlike many Spanish traditions the eating of grapes ("tomar las uvas") is of quite recent vintage. Early in the twentieth century, freak weather conditions resulted in an unseasonable bumper harvest of grapes. At a loss over what to do about so many grapes at Christmas time, the King of Spain and the grape growers came up with the idea of the New Year ritual.

 

28. C) Brazil - Most people wear white clothes on New Year's Eve to bring good luck and peace for the year that will follow. If they are in a beach city, after midnight people go to the beach, jump seven waves and throw flowers in the sea while making a wish. They say that the goddess who protects the sea will make their wishes come true. Because of that, some people also light candles in the sand on the beach.

 

29. D) Shakespeare - "You'd be so lean, that blast of January Would blow you through and through. Now, my fair'st friend, I would I had some flowers o' the spring that might Become your time of day." William Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale, Act IV Scene 4.

 

30. C) The Beatles

 

31. D) Every horse - No matter what time of year a horse is born, its first birthday is recorded as the first day of January. So, New Year's Day is the official birthday of every horse.

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