This week we'll be doing a task on the upcoming Christmas via webquest. New Year is an exciting time and many cultures celebrate it in a special way. This may include special foods and drinks, parties, religious festivals and other traditions. 


You will read the text and write a 500 words essay according to the questions.


You have 60 minutes to do this.


New Year’s Day

New Year’s Day is a national holiday celebrated on January 1st, the first day of the New Year, following both the Gregorian and the Julian calendar. This New Years’ holiday is often marked by fireworks, parades, and reflection upon the last year while looking ahead to the future’s possibilities. Many people celebrate New Year’s in the company of loved ones, involving traditions meant to bring luck and success in the upcoming year. Many Cultures celebrate this happy day in their own unique way. Typically the customs and traditions of happy New Years Day involve celebrating with champagne and a variety of different foods. New Years marks a date of newly found happiness and a clean slate. For many celebrating New Years, it is their opportunity to learn from the prior year and make positive changes in their life.

New Year’s Day Holiday History

New Year’s is one of the oldest holidays still celebrated, but the exact date and nature of the festivities has changed over time. It originated thousands of years ago in ancient Babylon, celebrated as an eleven day festival on the first day of spring. During this time, many cultures used the sun and moon cycle to decide the “first” day of the year. It wasn’t until Julius Caesar implemented the Julian calendar that January 1st became the common day for the celebration. The content of the festivities has varied as well. While early celebrations were more paganistic in nature, celebrating Earth’s cycles, Christian tradition celebrates the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ on New Year’s Day. Roman Catholics also often celebrate Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, a feast honoring Mary. However, in the twentieth century, the holiday grew into its own celebration and mostly separated from the common association with religion. It has become a holiday associated with nationality, relationships, and introspection rather than a religious celebration, although many people do still follow older traditions.

New Year’s Day Resolutions and Traditions

While celebration varies all over the world, common traditions include:

  • Making resolutions or goals to improve one’s life.


  • Common resolutions concern diet, exercise, bad habits, and other issues concerning personal wellness. A common view is to use the first day of the year as a clean slate to improve one’s life.


  • A gathering of loved ones: Here you’ll typically find champagne, feasting, confetti, noise makers, and other methods of merriment Fireworks, parades, concerts.


  • Famous parades include London’s New Year’s Day Parade and the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California. Superstitions concerning food or visitors to bring luck.


This especially includes circle-shaped foods, which symbolize cycles. The reasoning behind superstitions is that the first day of the year sets precedent for the following days. A common superstition specific to New Year’s Day concerns a household’s first visitor of the year—tradition states that if a tall, dark-haired stranger is the first to walk through your door, called the First Footer or Lucky Bird, you’ll have good luck all year. Also, if you want to subscribe to superstition, don’t let anything leave the house on New Year’s, except for people. Tradition say’s: don’t take out the trash and leave anything you want to take out of the house on New Year’s outside the night before. If you must remove something, make sure to replace it by bringing an item into the house. These policies of balance apply in other areas as well—avoiding paying bills, breaking anything, or shedding tears.

  • Toasting

Toasts typically concern gratefulness for the past year’s blessings, hope and luck or the future, and thanking guests for their New Year’s company. In coastal regions, running into a body of water or splashing water on one another, symbolizing the cleansing, “rebirth” theme associated with the holiday.

However, many nations and cultures within them have their own characteristic way of celebrating:


New Years Food

American Citizens often celebrate with a party featuring toasting, drinking and fireworks late into the night before the New Year, where the gathering counts down the final seconds to January 1st. Some might even get a kiss at midnight. Many English speaking countries play “Auld Lang Syne,” a song celebrating the year’s happy moments. Americans often make resolutions and watch the Time Square Ball drop in New York City. Although much of this celebration occurs the night before, the merrymaking typically continues to New Year’s Day. Football is a common fixture on New Year’s Day in America, usually the day of the Rose Bowl. Some foods considered “lucky” to eat during the festivities include:

Circular shaped foods
Black-eyed peas

Please write an essay including the following questions. You can decide the order.

  1. When and where did the festival of New Year start?
  2. At what time of the year were the original New Year celebrations?
  3. How long did the original celebration last?
  4. Who introduced 1st January as the start of the New Year?
  5. What Christian festivals were also celebrated at New Year?
  6. What is a 'first footer'?
  7. What should you avoid doing at New Year?
  8. What do people in coastal areas often do at New Year?
  9. What is the name of the song played in many English speaking countries at New Year?
  10. What is the name of the football fixture common in America on New Year's Day?














Activity responses

Does not answer questions.  Errors are numerous and distract from readability.

Does not answer all questions.  Has quite a few sentence and grammatical errors.  Lacks originality

Answers questions.  Has minor errors in sentence structure and grammar, but  they do not interfere with readability.  Some creativity

Answers questions clearly. Writes in complete sentences without grammatical errors.  Creative and original thoughts





There are problems with grammar.

There are some problems with grammar.

There is a problem with grammar in a word or two.

There is no problem with grammar.



Only know a little bit of vocabulary.

Can solve few vocabulary questions.

Has decent amount of vocabulary.

Has vast knowledge of vocabulary.


You have done a great job! After you submit your task, I will give you feedback. If there are any volunteers, they can share their essays with the class in the next week.

Teacher Page

This webquest was created for Fle 361 "Introduction to Computer Assisted Language Learning Tools".


It is prepared by İrem Naz Akkuş who is currently 4th year student at well respected Middle East Technical University in Foreign Language Education.