When I was a child, my dad's side of the family gathered for New Year's Eve celebrations. All of the ones I remember were at our house; maybe so the kids could go to bed? Our family had the most children, six. We have just two cousins in Dad's family, and one of them wasn't born until I had my third child.
Anyway, we gathered together. There was always an abundance of food and laughter. Uncle John, 'Big Bad John,' always took the time to entertain us at intervals during the night. We squealed, literally, when he made faces at us, and made silly noises. He was, as we would have said then, a hoot! We played games and ate. I remember watching the adults play 'Pit,' still a family favorite.
At midnight, each person being armed with a pan and a spoon (or some other object with which to beat), stood on the porch beating on our pans and shouting "Happy New Year!" We thought it the most fun thing ever! The weather in western Washington was always relatively mild, so we could go on beating and yelling for quite some time. I don't know if Mom ever had to stop us.
I do know, that once we returned indoors, we had a toast to the New Year. This was the only time in my childhood that I was allowed to taste alcohol. Mom had some beautiful crystal goblets in which she put a small amount of wine (for the children, at least). Each of us raised our glass to help bring in the year, then drained it quickly of its contents. We went to bed immediately thereafter.
The traditions of games, food, banging pots and yelling, and toasting the New Year have survived into my household. We always did this with our children, minus the wine. Was it Kool-aid? Maybe sparking cider? I can't remember. Some of our children continue this tradition with their children, some prefer sleep.
This last New Year's Eve (2010), I started the new tradition of inviting all of my grandchildren of the age of 12, or over, to spend the night and ring in the New Year with Grandpa and me. It was frigid! We had a lot of fun, and very little sleep! Given the weather in Missouri, this may be a hit-and-miss tradition, but we'll try, nevertheless.
New Year's Day? One word - recuperate! HAPPY NEW YEAR!