New Year Toasts and Quotes

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There are plenty 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 even to change the essence of who you are. So, 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 even William Shakespeare.

To a Brighter Future

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

Ireland is a country that has seen its share of hardship. The Irish Potato Famine of 1845-1852 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'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

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

  • "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

Though he actually spent a lifetime fighting his own desires and vices, 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.

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 even a chance to be reborn.

  • "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

The famed British poet and playwright left us an eclectic catalog of poems and plays -- he wrote a 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.

  • "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

Lamb, an English writer and essayist, and 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.

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. As the bard, William Shakespeare, notes in his wonderful way with words: You can't stop the passing of time, so accept it.

  • "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

  • "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day" - William Shakespeare