Test Your New Year's Knowledge

Ring in the New Year by testing your memory and knowledge of New Year's traditions, history and entertainment. Pose these questions at your New Year's Eve celebration, or when gathering with friends and family on New Year's Day for an interactive guessing game. It can be as competitive as you like, break up into teams or make it everyone for themselves. Set a timer… award prizes…. The answers to these 36 New Year's brain teasers appear at the end of the quiz. Good Luck and Happy New Year!

1. What is the most common New Year's resolution made by people in the United States?

2. What popular New Year's custom helps ensure a good relationship and affection throughout the New Year?

3. Richard Wagstaff, born on November 30th, 1929 is better known by what name?

4. In what movie did Debbie Reynolds dance with a very inebriated Fred Astaire on New Year's Eve? (hint: the film also starred Bing Crosby and took place at a hotel in Connecticut)

5. What parade is held each year on New Year's Day?

6. In "Rudolph's Shiny New Year", who was the voice of Father Time? (hint: this famous comedian was also known for his comic portrayal of a hobo)

7. What day marks the beginning of the New Year for followers of the Jewish religion?

8. What is the translation of the title of the traditional New Year's song "Auld Lang Syne"?

9. Though Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote "Auld Lang Syne", who made it New Year's most popular standard in the U.S.?

10. Which city hosts the 1st major New Year's Eve celebration in the world each year?

11. What symbolic New Year's character is often adorned with a top hat and sash?

12. At what time does the New Year's Eve ball begin its descent in Time's Square?

13. Since the first descent of the ball in Times Square in New York City on New Year's Eve 1907, the ball has been dropped every year except for 2. What were those years?

14. Who were the first people in history to celebrate the New Year and to make New Year's resolutions?

15. What does Father Time signify?

16. Why do people in Spain eat 12 grapes at midnight on New Year's Eve?

17. In 1907 the original Times Square New Year's Eve ball was made of iron and wood. What is it made of today? (extra points if you can guess the current ball's diameter or weight)

18. In America the ball drops in Times Square to countdown to the New Year. In London how is the New Year rung in?

19. The New Year is celebrated in Egypt in late September, coinciding with what event?

a) The Pharaoh's Birthday, b) Flooding of the Nile, c) The Solar Eclipse

20. Who established January 1 as the start of the New Year?

21. In what country are donuts eaten and houses cleaned to usher in the New Year? (hint: In this country "Happy New Year" translates to "Gelukkig Nieuwjaar"?

22. What is eaten on Rosh Hashanah to symbolize a sweet New Year?

23. Who was the New Year's baby born on January 1, 1895 credited for capturing John Dillinger and having Charlie Chaplin deported for being a communist?

24. Who invented fireworks, used around the world to celebrate the New Year?

25. In the Middle Ages most European countries observed New Year's Day on March 25th. What is the significance of this date?

26. What was Bridget Jones's New Year's resolution?

27. Who was the patriot and silversmith born on January 1st, 1735?

28. At the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve Cary Grant proposes to Irene Dunne in what 1941 movie?

29. New Year's Eve plays an integral role in a famous movie starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. What was the name of this 1989 blockbuster hit?

30. In the South a New Year's tradition is eating Hoppin' John. What is Hoppin' John?

31. Can you name a food that is considered unlucky to eat for the New Year?

32. Champagne is the traditional toasting drink of New Year's. Where is it made?

33. Who is credited with inventing champagne?

34. What famous country singer died on January 1st, 1953 at only 29 years old on a way to a show in Canton, Ohio?

35. Born on January 1st, 1909, which senator ran for President against JFK in 1964?

36. Who wanted to party like it was 1999?


1. Losing weight is the #1 New Year's resolution in the U.S. No wonder diet foods, diet products and exercise equipment are often advertised for sale in January to attract New Year's dieters.

2. Kissing your sweetheart at the stroke of Midnight on New Year's Eve is thought to ensure a good relationship and affection in the coming year.

3. Dick Clark was born Richard Wagstaff. He began hosting the New Year's Eve Celebration from New York City on 1972. It eventually became" Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve". In 1999 the show was renamed for one year for the millennium to "ABC 2000 Today". Dick Clark did his traditional countdown for this turn-of-the-century celebration.

4. Debbie Reynolds danced with Fred Astaire in "Holiday Inn", also starring Bing Crosby. Bing and Fred ran an inn in Connecticut that was only opened on holidays. One of the featured holidays was New Year's.

5. The Tournament of Roses Parade, also known as the Rose Bowl Parade, occurs each New Year's Day in Pasadena, California. The parade first stepped off in 1886 (some accounts say 1990) Food Network star Paula Deen has been selected as the Grand Marshal of the 2011 parade. Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger III was the 2010 Grand Marshal,and actress ClorisLeachman serving as the 2009 Grand Marshal.

6. Red Skelton was the famous voice of Father Time in this popular 1975 Rankin/Bass family film. Other actors lending their voices for the New Year's classic were Frank Gorshin and Morey Amsterdam.

7. Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the New Year for members of the Jewish religion. The Hebrew translation means "Beginning of Year". The day begins a period of the "Ten Penitential Days, ending with Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as the High Holy Days.

8. The Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote Auld Lang Syne in 1796. Translated literally it means "Old Long Since", but is often rephrased to "Times Gone By".

9. Bandleader Guy Lombardo first heard "Auld Lang Syne" sung by Scottish immigrants in his hometown of London, Ontario. When Guy and his brothers formed the band "Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians" the song became one of their standards. Guy played the song at the New Year's Eve party at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City in 1929. After that introduction the song was played at the stroke of midnight every New Year's Eve at New York's famous Waldorf Astoria from the 1930's until 1976.

10. Sydney, Australia hosts the first New Year's Celebration each year. To mark the occasion 80,000 fireworks are set off from the Sydney Harbor Bridge.

11. Baby New Year personifies the coming year, often wearing just a diaper, a top hat and a sash with the date of the New Year. He grows to be Father Time by the end of the year, handing over New Year's duties to the next Baby New Year at the end of the year. Many cities across the U.S. declare their own "Baby New Year" to be the first baby born after midnight on New Year's Eve.

12. The famous ball begins its descent at exactly 11:59 PM.

13. In 1942 and 1943 the ball did not drop due to war restrictions in New York City. On 2001, following the World Trade center attacks, the ball did drop, though some celebrations were much lower key in reverence for the country's mourning for the losses of 9/11.

14. Around 4000 years ago the Babylonians were the first to celebrate New Year's. Their most common resolution was to resolve to return borrowed farm equipment in the New Year.

15. Father Time, portrayed as an old man with a long beard, wearing a robe and carrying a scythe and often an hourglass, personifies the previous year, or the "old year."

16. In Spain 12 grapes are eaten at midnight to secure 12 happy months in the coming year - one for each stroke of the clock. Each grape individually represents a different month. If a grape is bitter or sweet its corresponding month may likewise be disappointing or prosperous.

17. The original Times Square ball weighed 700 pounds, was 5 feet in diameter and had 100 25-watt light bulbs. Today's ball was first used in 2008. It weighs in at 11,875 pounds, is 12 feet in diameter and is made of 2,668 Waterford crystals.

18. In London Big Ben chimes in the New Year.

19. (b) The flooding of the Nile, which occurred toward the end of September, was celebrated as the start of the new year because it allowed crops to be grown in the otherwise dry desert

20. Julius Caesar declared January 1 the start of the new year when he established the Julian Calendar. January was named for Janus, the two-faced god who looked both ahead to the new year and back to the previous year.

21. In Holland cleaning houses and eating donuts are thought to bring luck. The donut is in the shape of a ring, a symbol strongly associated with good luck in Holland.

22. Apples and Honey are traditionally eaten on Rosh Hashanah to symbolize a sweet New Year.

23. J. Edgar Hoover, born on January 1st, 1895 was the first director of the FBI. He conceived of the "10 Most Wanted List", captured John Dillinger and had Charlie Chaplin deported for being a Communist.

24. The Chinese invented fireworks. The Chinese New Year is celebrated on the 2nd New Moon after the winter solstice, determined by the Lunar Calendar.

25. March 25th is recognized as Annunciation Day, celebrating when Mary learns from the Archangel Gabriel that she will give birth to the Son of God.

26. Bridget Jones, played by Renee Zellweger in the Movie "Bridget Jones's Diary" makes a New Year's Resolution to start keeping a diary. The popular 2001 hit also starred Hugh Grant and Colin Firth

27. Paul Revere, born on January 1, 1735 was the famous patriot and silversmith who proclaimed "The British are Coming!"

28. Cary Grant proposes to Irene Dunne on New Year's Eve in the sentimental film, "Penny Serenade".

29. New Year's plays an integral role in "When Harry Met Sally", starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan.

30. Hoppin' John is a southern dish made from black-eyed peas and ham hocks. Some Southerners believe eating one pea for every day of the year will bring good fortune. The saying goes "Eat peas on New Year's Day to have plenty of everything the rest of the year". The tradition probably originated during the Civil War when the town of Vicksburg, Mississippi ran out of food. The townspeople discovered that black-eyed peas could provide nourishment for the hungry families; thereafter they were considered lucky." Some families would even hop around the table to promote good luck.

31. Unlucky foods to avoid are lobster, because they move backwards, not forward into the New Year. Likewise chicken is discouraged because the bird scratches in a backward direction. Another superstition is to not eat fowl because they could cause good luck to fly away.

32. Authentic champagne is a light sparkling wine which can only originate in the Champagne region of Northeastern France. It can only be made from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier or Chardonnay grapes from that region.

33. Dom Perignon, a near-blind Benedictine Monk, is credited with inventing champagne. In 1688 he was assigned the job of chief treasurer and cellar master. He was responsible for producing the first white wine ever, and altered the shape and weight of the bottles to prevent them from exploding. Dom Perignon also introduced the first cork stoppers, which he got from Spain.

34. Hank Williams Sr. died of a heart attack on New Year's Day, 1953 on his way to a show in Canton, Ohio

35. Barry Goldwater, born January 1, 1909 ran against JFK for president in 1964.

36. Prince wanted to party like it was 1999, a song that took on great significance during the millennium celebration.