Sunday, 5 January 2014

New Year Webquest

You can do this webquest while I am talking to each of you separately, for your tutorials.

Please time your time with the tasks, discuss unknown vocabulary with your partners, and have good conversations about the topics. You do not have to finish!


New Year is an exciting time, and many cultures celebrate it in a special way. This may include special food and drink, parties, religious festivals and other traditions. Answer these questions in pairs or threes:
  1. How is New Year celebrated in your country?
  2. Do you know of any similarities or differences in New Year celebrations in other countries?
  3. How do you and your family celebrate New Year?

Activity 1: The history of New Year celebrations

Visit and read the sections titledEarly New Year’s Celebrations’ and ‘January 1 becomes New Year’s day’. Look for the answers to these questions:
  1. When were the earliest New Year celebrations and where did they take place?
  2. What name was given to the religious festivity, and where did the name come from?
  3. How long did the original celebration last?
  4. When people began to develop their own calendars, to what events did they tie the beginning of a new year?
  5. What event marked the beginning of the New Year in Egypt?
  6. When was the city of Rome established?
  7. Who included the first two months of the year to the calendar, and what were the names of the first two months?
  8. Who introduced January 1 as the start of the New Year?
  9. What changes did Christian leaders make in the middle ages?
  10. When was January 1 reintroduced as the beginning of the calendar year?
When you’ve finished, discuss what you found out with your partner.

Discuss one other significant festival in your country – do you know how long it has been celebrated, and why it became important?


Activity 2: New Year’s Traditions

Now go to and read the final section of the page titled ‘New Year’s Traditions’. Answer the following questions and then compare your answers with your partner.
  1. What do Spanish people eat 12 of at midnight on New Year’s Eve and what do they symbolize?
  2. Which countries eat legumes and what do they represent?
  3. What do pigs represent in some cultures and where is pork eaten?
  4. Which countries eat ring-shaped cakes and why?
  5. What is hidden inside the rice pudding eaten in Sweden and Norway at New Year? What will happen to the person who finds it?
  6. Which people first made New Year’s resolutions?
  7. What did they promise to do?
  8. What’s the most famous symbol of the beginning of the New Year in America?
  9. How long has the event taken place?
  10. What alternative objects are dropped in other American cities?

Activity 3: New Year celebrations around the world

New Year is celebrated on different dates in different places, and often involves very different traditions. In this activity you and a partner will find out all about two countries and their New Year celebrations.

Student 1 only – Scottish New Year
Before you look at the weblink, decide whether the following statements are true or false:
  1. ‘Hogmanay’ means the first day of the year.
  2. Scottish people used to celebrate Hogmanay more than Christmas.
  3. Strangers are not allowed inside people’s houses during Hogmanay.
  4. It is considered very unlucky to enter a household without any gifts.
  5. A lump of coal is a traditional gift.
Now visit to check your answers.

Student 2 only – Jewish New Year
Before you look at the weblink, decide whether the following statements are true or false:
  1. Jewish New Year is a celebration of the creation of the world.
  2. The celebration lasts a whole week.
  3. Jews believe that God will decide what the next year will be like for someone.
  4. A special song called the ‘Shofar’ is sung in the synagogue.
  5. A round loaf is eaten to symbolize the circle of life.
Now visit to check your answers.

Compare your answers with your partner. Then together, copy the table below and fill it in using the information on the websites:
Scottish New YearJewish New Year
Name of celebration
Food eaten

Activity 4: Quiz: International New Year’s Eve customs

Use the following website to access this quiz based on New Year’s Eve customs around the world. 

In pairs, discuss each question and decide which option you think is correct. When you have decided, check your answer using the drop-down box.

Post-quiz discussion:
How many of the customs are also practised in your own country?


Activity 5: Resolutions

Make your own list of New Year’s resolutions. Compare your list to your classmates to see if any are similar.


Happy New Year!

When you have finished, look around my blog and choose some tasks or information to look at.

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