On December Thirty-First, Americans and other people around theworld welcome the New Year. I'm Doug Johnson.
And I'm Bob Doughty. We tell about New Year celebrations on ourreport today on the VOA Special English program, THIS IS AMERICA.
It is December Thirty-First in NewYork City. Thousands of people are gathered in Times Square. Theystand close together, waiting in the cold darkness for midnight.That is the time when the old year dies and the New Year is born.
The people count the seconds until the New Year arrives. "Ten ..nine....eight" A huge, brightly lit, glass ball falls as theseconds pass.
When it reaches the ground, theNew Year has begun. People shout "Happy New Year!" They sing atraditional New Year song of friendship, called "Auld Lang Syne."
((TAPE CUT ONE: VOCAL "AULD LANG SYNE"))
Americans hope Two-Thousand-Two will be happier thanTwo-Thousand-One. New York suffered terrible losses in the terroristattacks on September Eleventh. However, the city is continuing withits New Year's Eve traditions in Times Square for the ninety-seventhyear.
The tradition began in Nineteen-Oh-Four. That year, the owners ofthe building at Number One Times Square held a party on top of thebuilding. Today, the New Year's Ball falls from the top of the samebuilding. The ball contains thousands of pieces of lighted cutglass. It looks like burning stars as it falls through the darkness.When it reaches the ground, people in Times Square dance and sing.They throw tiny pieces of colorful paper into the air. Many peoplein the United States also watch this event on television.
Other cities also have New Year celebrations. For example,Chicago has a fireworks show. The fireworks are launched from theNavy Pier, a land area that extends into Lake Michigan. Some peoplelike to watch the fireworks from a boat on the lake. The boat servesa special meal on New Year's Eve. People drink a special wine calledChampagne to celebrate the clock striking midnight.
Many young people in Chicago celebrate New Year's Eve at theLincoln Park Zoo. Children wear funny hats as they wish the animalsa good New Year.
Many other Americans celebrate New Year's Eve with parties athome. Or they celebrate at public eating and drinking places. Theseevents are usually noisy. People shout and sing. They often blow onsmall noise-makers when the New Year arrives at midnight. They kisstheir husband or wife or the person they are with. They dance tobroadcast music, records or live bands.
((TAPE CUT TWO: "WHAT ARE YOU DOING NEW YEAR'S EVE?"))
Some people drink too much alcohol at New Year's Evecelebrations. This can lead to tragic results if a person drinks toomuch and then drives a car. The National Safety Council sayshundreds of people die in road accidents during the holiday.
In recent years, the danger of accidents has resulted in a newtradition called the "designated driver." One person among a groupof friends drinks little or no alcohol during New Year's Evecelebrations. Then this designated driver can safely drive the otherpeople home. Many American cities also offer free taxi service onNew Year's Eve to take people home safely.
Other Americans observe the coming of the New Year at eventswithout alcohol. More than two-hundred American cities hold theseFirst Night celebrations. Artists in Boston, Massachusetts, startedthe tradition of First Night celebrations in Nineteen-Seventy-Six.They wanted to observe the coming of a New Year. But they did notwant to hold noisy drinking parties. So they organized music, artand other events to observe the holiday.
This year, people in Boston have a choice of entertainment atfifty places in the city. A parade and fireworks celebration areheld early in the evening. At midnight, more fireworks are launchedover Boston Harbor.
People attending First Night in Whittier, California, are alsomarching in a parade. Adults and children in the parade wearcostumes -- unusual or funny clothes. They hear performers from manycountries. For example, they listen to African and African-Americanstories and traditional Welsh music. Finally, fireworks will lightup the California sky.
After the celebrations of New Year's Eve, New Year's Day is oftena quiet day for many Americans. Many people spend the first day ofthe New Year at home. Some people watch football games ontelevision. Some of the top American university teams play in thesegames. The games have names like the Outback Bowl, the Toyota GatorBowl and the Nokia Sugar Bowl.
The most famous of these bowl games is the Rose Bowl in Pasadena,California. It was traditionally played on January First. This year,however, the University of Nebraska and the University of Miami willcompete in the Rose Bowl on January Third.
However, the Tournament of Rosesparade will take place on January First, as usual. The paradeincludes many vehicles called "floats." The floats are coveredcompletely with paper or flowers.
Businesses, social groups, universities and the city governmentpay thousands of dollars to build these floats. Millions of peoplewatch the colorful event on television.
Another parade takes place on the opposite side of the nation, inPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania. This city holds a yearly Mummers Paradeon New Year's Day. The Mummers make unusual costumes to wear. Theycover their faces with masks. They march through the city and playmusical instruments. Listen now as the Mummers perform "GoldenSlippers."
((TAPE CUT THREE: "GOLDEN SLIPPERS"))
On New Year's Day many Americans follow traditions meant to bringgood luck in the New Year. They wear special clothes or eat specialfoods. For example, people who want to find their true love wearyellow clothing. Others carry silver in hopes of finding money.
People in many parts of the United States celebrate the New Yearby eating black-eyed peas. Cabbage is another vegetable that peopleeat to bring good luck and money. In the South, people prepare andeat a traditional food called Hoppin' John. It contains peas,onions, bacon and rice. It has this unusual name because long agochildren were said to like it so much they hopped around the roomwhile waiting for it to cook.
Asian-Americans sometimes make traditional fortune cookies. Thesesweets contain small pieces of paper telling about a person'sfuture. Some Americans from Spanish-speaking families follow atradition for the New Year that involves fruit. On January First,they stand on a chair and eat grapes.
Whatever you do to celebrate the coming of Two-Thousand-Two, weat Special English wish you a very Happy New Year.
This VOA Special English program was written by Jerilyn Watson.It was produced by Cynthia Kirk. Our studio engineer was BillBarber. I'm Bob Doughty.E ONE:
And I'm Doug Johnson. Join us again next week for another reportabout life in the United States on the VOA Special English program,THIS IS AMERICA.