New Year’s Eve traditions activity

The aim of this brief activity is to talk about different New Year’s Eve traditions from around the world. It is a great idea for the first class after the holiday break and is suitable for all ages and levels. It is based on this Buzzfeed article.

The Task (for levels elementary and pre-intermediate)

Step 1

Write the date 31.12 on the board and try to elicit New Year’s Eve from your students. Then, ask them what they usually do on New Year’s Eve at midnight (drink champagne, watch fireworks, kiss, etc.) Tell your students you are going to look at 4 different NYE traditions from Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, and Spain (if you happen to teach students from any these countries, you will have a chance to confirm the authenticity of the article!)

Step 2

Distribute the worksheets and draw your student’s attention to the word groups. Make sure your students understand the vocabulary and ask them to match red and blue words with the pictures. Then, ask them what the difference between the red and the blue words is (verbs and nouns). Use the words to make sentences about each picture:

On New Year’s Eve in Brazil, people jump over waves…

On New Year’s Eve in Colombia, people walk with a suitcase…

On New Year’s Eve in Argentina, people wear pink underwear…

On New Year’s Eve in Spain, people eat grapes…

Step 3

Ask your students whether they think these are regular, usual things to do (hopefully, they agree these are pretty crazy things). Ask them why people do them on NYE and then point to the green column. Try to combine green reasons with the sentences you had already written.

Step 4

Check whether your students matched reasons and pictures well (Brazil – good luck, Colombia – travel, Argentina – love, Spain – prosperity) and then write the following on the board:

On New Year’s Eve in Brazil people jump over waves __________ good luck.

Ask whether your students know what should go in the gap (the best option that fits all gaps is to attract). The students should come up with 4 sentences.

Step 5

Ask your students to think about NYE traditions (or general superstitions) from their or other countries that people observe to attract love, good luck, and prosperity (money).

The Task (for levels intermediate and above)

With more advanced students you might simply use the visuals and ask them to decipher what and why people do on NYE.

You might use this activity to offer more complex structures that convey the objective of each action:

  • in order to
  • so as to
  • so that

Personal Experience

This activity doesn’t take long and I have found it to be a nice way to ease students back into the course. For less advanced students it is a great opportunity to revise Present Simple (you might also write the sentences using the imperative form). With more advanced students you might have a conversation comparing different traditions and discussing superstitions.


New Year’s Eve Traditions All Over the World



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