New Year's Eve Toasts and Quotes

Group of people toasting

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There is an abundance of great quotes to help you ring in the new year. Many poets, writers, and essayists have described the new year as a chance to begin anew, to hope for a brighter future, and to change the essence of who you are. Scan the pithy sayings below and impress your friends on New Year's Eve with wise words from such luminaries as Benjamin Franklin, Sir Walter Scott, and William Shakespeare.

Quotes to a Brighter Future

Ireland is a country that has seen its share of hardship. The Irish Potato Famine of 1845 to 1852 caused starvation in much of the country and led to the emigration of an estimated 1.5 million Irish to the United States. William D. Crump notes in his book, "Encyclopedia of New Year's Holidays Worldwide," that in Ireland "New Year's of yore was devoted primarily to predicting the future," including predicting the weather for the coming year. The weather would, of course, have a great influence over the growing of crops and the prosperity--or lack thereof--of the country, as it did during the famine. 

Here is one of many Irish quotes about a better future.

"In the New Year, may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship, but never in want." -- Traditional Irish toast

The following quote, while not strictly about the weather, still refers to the same desire for a bright future that Crump describes in his book.

"Here's a toast to the future, a toast to the past, and a toast to our friends, far and near. May the future be pleasant, the past a bright dream; may our friends remain faithful and dear." -- Anonymous

Though he spent a lifetime fighting his desires and vices, Benjamin Franklin devoted much of his early writing to the notion that you should always strive to improve yourself every day. "Poor Richard's Almanac," which Franklin published between 1732 and 1758 under the pseudonym Poor Richard, offered a calendar, poems, astronomical and astrological information, weather forecasts, and pithy sayings such as this one, urging the reader to strive to be a better person in the new year.

"Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every New Year find you a better man." -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac," 1755

New Beginnings

Crump notes in his book that in almost every culture, New Year's is not just the turning of the calendar; it is a metaphysical restart, a chance to be a better person, an opportunity for greater happiness, and a chance to be metaphorically reborn.

The famed British poet and playwright T.S. Eliot left an eclectic catalog of poems and plays--he wrote the book upon which the famous Broadway show "Cats" was based--but his most famous poem, "The Waste Land," deals in part with prophecy. Many of his other works, such as "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" and "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," talk about the yearning for a better present and future.

"For last year's words belong to last year's language. And next year's words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning." -- T.S. Eliot

Charles Lamb, an English writer and essayist, and Sir Walter Scott, a Scottish historical novelist, playwright, and poet, both eloquently expressed the same thought: The new year is a time for rebirth, an opportunity to leave the past behind and start anew. Scott, in just a few words, adds a satirical twist, implying that every year since the beginning of time, humans have believed, perhaps erroneously, that the new year would be completely different and better than the last.

"New Year's Day is every man's birthday." -- Charles Lamb
"Each age has deemed the new-born year the fittest time for festal cheer." -- Sir Walter Scott

On Aging

Despite lofty and hopeful predictions, ultimately, the new year means just that: a new year. And, regardless of your age or position in life, that translates to getting older, even if the new year does not fall on your actual birthday. Like the bard, William Shakespeare, notes in his wonderful way with words: You can't stop the passing of time, so accept it.

"Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow Creeps in this petty pace from day to day." -- William Shakespeare
"Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve. Middle age is when you're forced to." -- Bill Vaughn
"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream." -- C.S. Lewis

Irish Quotes 

The Irish are famous for their colorful sayings and quotes. Naturally, they have quite a few that are just right for New Year's Eve.

"May we all be alive at this same time next year."
"May you live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live."
"May the best day of your past be the worst day of your future."
"Here's to a long life and a merry one.  A quick death and an easy one. A pretty girl and an honest one. A cold beer--and another one!"
"May your troubles be less, and your blessings be more, and nothing but happiness come through your door."
"May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and the rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand."