This simple question follows me throughout the year. At every doctor appointment the doctor and I have this conversation-

Doctor: “I see in your paperwork that you don’t drink alcohol.”

Me: “That’s right.”

Doctor: “Not even a little on New Year’s?”

Me (smiling): “No, not even a little on New Year’s.”

Doctor (sternly): “Really?”

Me (sternly): “Really!”

You may remember from previous posts on Mormon Women that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has a health code referred to as “The Word of Wisdom.” One of the admonitions in this health code is abstaining from alcohol and other strong drinks (even on New Year’s!). This may lead some to think that we don’t celebrate New Year’s or that our celebrations are boring. But that’s just not true!

Similar to our Christmas celebrations that we posted about two weeks ago, the church is worldwide and full of a variety of people so our celebrations vary too. (I find it hard to believe that any of my fellow Mormons would tolerate a boring party, though!)

Many LDS people have traditional parties on New Year’s Eve, just without the alcohol. Sometimes these parties are family affairs, where children are involved in the celebrations, and sometimes the adults like to get out and have fun without children to care for so they hire a babysitter. I’ve had great times at adult parties with my husband and friends as we play games, watch videos, and maybe even dance.

There have been years that my husband and I have been content to celebrate New Year’s at home. This is especially true if we have a new baby in the family or are worn out from our Christmas celebrations. Even when we stay home we have a good time. There are always games – board games, card games (no gambling), charades, and the like. We might watch a movie or the New Year’s celebrations around the world on TV. There is always food too; sometimes LDS people joke that what they don’t consume in alcohol they make up for in sugar!

My friend Esther told me about how her family of six celebrates the New Year. They start the evening with takeout Chinese food, a special treat for their family. Then the family sits in a circle with unlit candles. They go around the circle one by one, lighting each other’s candles and telling about the accomplishments and positive qualities of another family member until everyone’s candles are lit. This promotes such great feelings of love between family members as they encourage and recognize the great in each other. After enjoying the accomplished goals of the previous year, the family looks forward to the next year. They read a scripture, Luke 2:52 that tells about Jesus Christ’s growth as a child. They use that scripture as a pattern for their goal making, setting goals in the four areas mentioned: wisdom (intelligence), stature (physical), God (spiritual), and man (social – family, marriage, friends). Everyone then receives a journal where they can record their goals, plan, and write about their progress. Great things have been accomplished in their family as they each strive individually, and collectively as a family.

Recently the leadership of the LDS church has given the youth of the church (ages 12-18) a special way to bring in the New Year. It is through a celebration called “A Brand New Year.” You can learn more about it on the website dedicated to it here. (And you can read more about it here and here). A DVD was produced (and translated into 11 languages) to be used as part of New Year’s events that are great alternatives for teens that want to celebrate with friends in a wholesome and safe atmosphere. (For photos from last year’s event, see here.)

I am always excited at the prospect of a new year. The renewal of the year reminds me of the renewal we all receive from Jesus Christ. Each new day is a blessing, each new year a chance for joy, love, and growth.