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Kenny and his familyAs I was swimming with my visiting family and waiting for the New Year to arrive, I started to think about how many different people there are in the world. Not only do they often look and talk different from one another but they also often have different ways of celebrating. The thing that they all have in common is that they celebrate. We all celebrate, we give thanks for the good in our lives, and hope that the difficulties become easier.We all wish for good luck and good fortune for our future and the futures of our loved ones as well as the future of the world. So, I considered the different ways that different we all celebrate the coming of the New Year.

My family and I leap out of the water twelve times to celebrate the twelve months to come. It is just something that we dolphins enjoy doing. It is joyful and of course, it is fun. We think that it brings us good luck. In other parts of the world, people (and maybe other dolphins) do things differently.

In Spain, they eat twelve grapes at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. With each chime of the clock, another grape is popped into their mouths. It sounds funny to imagine people with mouths full of grapes trying to chew them up and swallow them before the clock is finished chiming. Many Spanish people also cut open a special ring-shaped cake that is filled with little gifts. The shape of the cake symbolizes the full circle of the year. Whoever gets a slice with a little present is said to be extra lucky. And they also like to light fireworks and crackers, to chase the old year out.

In the US, my friend Daniel and his family open what is called a Jack Horner Pie. It is a box covered with tissue paper and in the box are silly little gifts attached to strings. At the countdown, everyone pulls on a string and out pop the presents. The presents can be traded if the winners want to. They also stay up late and watch a big ball drop, and of course, watch fireworks.

In Australia, Julian and his family will be ringing in the New Year with drums, trumpets, and all manner of loud instruments. Julian will like that very much! He loves to make noise. They will also be dancing and hugging and kissing. And they will watch fireworks from the boat that they spend so much time on.

In Costa Rica, Mar will grab a suitcase and run twice around her house and across the road to ensure that she gets to travel as she really hopes to meet up with Jairo again. She might also sweep out her house to ensure that any negativity from the past year is swept out. They might also watch fireworks on the beach.

In England, they open the back door at 12:00 to say goodbye to the old year. Then they enlist a gentleman with bread, salt and coal in the front door to bring in good luck for the New Year. They also say “Rabbits” or “Bunny bunny” three times to ensure good fortune for the coming year.

In India, they actually have several different New Year’s traditions at different times of the year depending on their region and religions. All consist of much color and treats as well as displays of offerings to their individual deities. They also celebrate on January 1. This also involves lots of festivities, color, and great food as well as a huge variety of greetings, laughter and well wishes to loved ones and strangers alike.

In Capetown, South Africa, the people have a large carnival with thousands of people in costumes. There is lots of music, dancing, and cheering as well as eating of amazing foods. People also visit the beaches and have costumed parties and watch firework displays.

In Brazil, they celebrate with Carnival dressing up in very colorful costumes and parading in the streets. Another custom is thanking the sea for her gifts which is done by filling a boat with presents, fruit, and flowers and sending out to sea. And of course, there are also many fireworks displays to be seen here as well.

In China, the birthplace of fireworks, New Years is a very busy time. It involves thoroughly cleaning the home to clean out any potential bad fortune and make way for good fortune in the coming year. They also often freshly paint the doors and window panes of the homes. They also celebrate with a huge feast with their family members. They also leave all lights in the house on and of course, watch fireworks.

In Germany, there is a huge amount of joyous partying and laughing for the New Year. Traditionally, it is common to share meats and cheeses with friends and loved ones and to leave a bit of food from the New Year’s Eve dinner until midnight to be the first meal of the New Year, this is believed to ensure plenty for the coming year.

In Japan, some people hang a straw rope in the front door of their house to keep out evil spirits. Shintoists decorate their homes with green plants and bamboo symbolizing new life and honesty. They also eat a special feast with their family. They also offer prayers for departed loved ones and for a good future.

Kenny and fireworksThere are so many different ways to celebrate the New Year. The one thing that we all have in common is that we all celebrate. We laugh, we dance, we cheer, we offer prayers for a good year, we express joy and hope, we feel optimistic, we look forward. And yes, there are also lots of fireworks! Let us all celebrate our differences and what we all have in common.

Happy New Year! And I wish you a joyful, love-filled and lucky 2017.

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