Voice of BC's Professional Bed & Breakfast Industry

New Year’s in Canada is great fun beginning with midnight parties, drinking bashes (hey, we’ve got the beer for it!), brilliant fireworks and of course sizzling foods. Many Canadians, like their American cousins, watch the ball drop in New York’s Times Square and spend New Year’s Day watching football games.

Various New Year celebrations here trace their origins back to time honored practiced traditions observed by the early Canadians.  The majority of new year traditions practiced in Canada are meant to bring good luck and fortune to the family in the ensuing year.

Since New Year is on the threshold and people are getting ready to celebrate the season let’s take a look at some interesting New Year traditions in Canada. There is a tradition in Canada to have a polar bear swim on New Year’s Day. People of all ages put on their bathing suits, or improvised ones, and plunge into icy cold water to welcome the New Year.  The Vancouver Polar Bear Swim started back in 1920.  Try this one out if you love frost bite and hypothermia!

Loud claps and cheers at the stroke of midnight are believed to ward off evil spirits and tax auditors. Kissing your date on New Year’s Eve precisely at midnight ensures that friendly ties will grace both the partners on each day of the New Year.  Don’t be late or your partner will likely end kissing somebody else…  I recommend starting that particular tradition early, although you may miss seeing the big ball drop.  Trust me, you won’t mind.

Gift giving and wishing Happy New Year on this special day is a popular tradition too. New Year gifts can be anything from theme based to something inspiring. One excellent New Year’s gift is to give a gift certificate for a stay at a BC B&Bkeepers Guild Bed and Breakfast where, rest assured, your kissing will be at its kissable best.

The Scottish custom of First Footing (visiting friends’ homes just after midnight and giving gifts of coals for the hearth or shortbread for the belly) was, and still is, a popular one in parts of Canada. Consuming a bowl of black-eyed pea soup along with a drink is another recognized New Year’s tradition in Canada.

Finally, everyone’s favorite song that nobody knows the words to, Auld Lang Syne, was made popular by Canadian Guy Lombardo who first heard it in his home town of London, Ontario.  The lyrics are printed below, so sing loud and Happy New Year!

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne! 

And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp,
And surely I'll be mine,
And we'll take a cup o kindness yet,
For auld lang syne! 

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou'd the gowans fine,
But we've wander'd monie a weary fit,
Sin auld lang syne. 

We twa hae paidl'd in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine,
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin auld lang syne. 

And there's a hand my trusty fiere,
And gie's a hand o thine,
And we'll take a right guid-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.