Your family probably has a few New Year’s traditions you look forward to each year, like watching the ball drop in Times Square, toasting with champagne, and lighting a few fireworks and sparklers to celebrate. But have you ever considered why those traditions exist, or how other cultures ring in a brand new year? If you want to come up with the perfect party game, or just keep a few conversation starters in mind for mingling on NYE, this New Year’s trivia will come in pretty handy.
New Year’s trivia questions and answers
There’s plenty to be said about this holiday without having to delve too far into ancient history or the entertainment archives. This New Year’s trivia would be perfect to ask around the dinner table with all ages.
- About this many glasses of champagne are consumed on New Year’s Eve in the U.S. alone. Answer: 360 million.
- On average, this many babies are born each January 1 in the U.S. Answer: 11,293.
- True or false: Setting off fireworks is a New Year’s tradition because it’s meant to scare off evil spirits. Answer: True.
- True or false: New Year’s Eve is the night when the most cars are stolen out of any night in the year, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Answer: True.
- True or false: the most common resolution is to earn more money in the New Year. Answer: False. The most common resolution is to exercise more.
- According to the International Date Line, where on Earth is New Year’s celebrated first each year? Answer: The Kiritimati Atoll in Kiribati.
- Christmas has Santa Claus. Who’s the (less popular) mascot for New Year’s Eve? Answer: Baby New Year.
- What city drops a giant chocolate kiss on New Year’s Eve? Answer: Hershey, Pennsylvania, of course.
New Year’s trivia about TV, movies, and songs
If your friends are family are into all things entertainment, don’t be afraid to get a little more specific with your trivia questions and answers. Also, expect everyone to immediately take out their phones and pull up the livestream of a certain song mentioned below.
- What is the translation of the title of the song “Auld Lang Syne?” Answer: Times gone by.
- True or false: “Auld Lang Syne” was originally a poem. Answer: True.
- Who was the first broadcast host of the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration? Answer: Guy Lombardo.
- This British band had a big audition with record label Decca on January 1, 1962, and they didn’t get signed. What’s their name? Answer: The Beatles.
- What is the name of the song that began playing on January 1, 2000 and will end, then start over, on December 31, 2999? Answer: “Longplayer.”
- Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve first premiered when? Answer: December 31, 1972.
- What entertainer died in a controversial airplane crash on New Year’s Eve in 1985? Answer: Rick Nelson.
- True or false: Antarctica hosts an annual New Year’s music festival. Answer: True.
- Name a movie with a scene around New Year’s. Answers: Bridget Jones’ Diary, Forrest Gump, Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, While You Were Sleeping, The Shining, Ocean’s 11, and more.
New Year’s trivia about the Times Square ball drop
Each year, millions of people tune in to watch the ball drop in Times Square. Whether you’re watching it at home or huddling around the TV at a party to catch a glimpse, it’s a tradition in most people’s New Year’s Eve celebrations. So, why not brush up on some fun facts all about the ball?
- What is the Times Square ball made of? Answer: Waterford crystals.
- You might think the ball is just a plain old sphere, but what do you actually call its many-sided shape? Answer: Geodesic sphere.
- How many triangular crystals make up the ball’s geodesic shape? Answer: 2,688.
- And how many LED lights does it take to create the ball’s colorful arrays of light? Answer: 32,256 LEDs.
- With all those crystals, lighting components, and its aluminum frame, much does the ball weigh? Answer: 11,875 pounds (that’s almost six tons).
- What year did the first ball drop in Times Square? Answer: 1907.
- What was the very first Times Square Ball made of? Answer: Iron, wood, and 100 25-watt light bulbs.
- How many versions of the Times Square ball have been built and used since then? Answer: Seven.
- When was the permanent Big Ball installed in Times Square to be displayed year-round? Answer: 2008.
- True or false: Since 1907, the ball has dropped every year in Times Square. Answer: False. In 1942 and 1943, the ceremony was canceled during the World War II dimout in New York City.
- True or false: The Times Square ball was not the first place a ball dropped to signify the passage of time. Answer: True. In 1833, a “time ball” on top of England’s Royal Observatory would drop at 1 p.m. so ship captains could set their chronometers as they passed by.
- What’s written on the confetti that falls through the air when the ball drops each year? Answer: The wishes of people in attendance.
New Year’s trivia on celebrations around the world
Just like the interesting, unique Christmas traditions celebrated elsewhere in the world (Australians spend the day at the beach), there are lots of countries and cultures who do NYE a little differently. After this round, you might be inspired to add some of these customs to your own celebrations.
- When the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve in this country, you’re supposed to kiss everyone in the room. Answer: Scotland.
- One minute before midnight in Spain, twelve of what food item is eaten before the clock strikes 12? Answer: Grapes.
- And what do the Dutch eat on New Year’s Day to bring them good luck? Answer: Donuts.
- In this country, people fill all the dishes in their house with water on New Year’s Eve, then throw it into the streets to wash away any mistakes of the past year. Answer: Cuba.
- What food do people in the Southern U.S. eat for good luck on New Year’s Eve? Answer: Black-eyed peas.
- In Greece, the head of the household throws this at the wall to bring peace and prosperity to the home. Answer: A pomegranate.
- In some European countries, the first person to come to your house in the New Year is supposed to enter with which foot first? Answer: Their right foot.
- In Japan, you’re supposed to eat these on New Year’s Day to ensure yourself a long life. Answer: Long noodles.
- This Australian city hosts one of the biggest New Year’s Eve parties in the world each year. Answer: Sydney.
- In New York, you’re supposed to smash what for good luck in the New Year? Answer: A peppermint pig.
- In this country, it’s believed that if you release a carp into a pond, it will report good things to the gods about your family and then turn into a dragon. Answer: Vietnam (they win coolest tradition).
New Year’s trivia about the holiday’s history
Wondering where it all started? New Year’s celebrations date back even further than you might think, and the holiday has had plenty of changes and historical moments happen since then.
- In this year, January 1 officially declared the first day of the new year. Answer: 46 B.C.
- True or false: The earliest known New Year’s celebration was held in Mesopotamia approximately 4,000 years ago. Answer: True.
- In this ancient country, eggs used to be given as a gift every New Year’s Day. Answer: Persia.
- When was the New Year celebrated in ancient Rome? Answer: March 1, when all the crops for the coming season were planted.
- What year was the Gregorian calendar first used in Western countries? Answer: 1582.
- What year did the very first Tournament of Roses parade take place? Answer: 1890.
- Many Christmas and New Year’s traditions are derived from what ancient Pagan holiday? Answer: Saturnalia.
- In 1803, what country gained its independence on New Year’s Day? Answer: Haiti.
- Immigrants from this country introduced Baby New Year to the U.S. Answer: Germany.
- Did the tradition of eating black-eyed peas for good luck begin with the Revolutionary or Civil War? Answer: The Civil War.
However you plan to celebrate NYE this year, knowing a few fun facts will help you break the ice at a work party or make your kids laugh while waiting for midnight.