Jimmy the Hedgehog and the New Year’s Eve Traditions Tonight is the biggest night of the year! Jimmy is a little hedgehog who lives in Central Park in New York City with his mom, Clara. He has soft white fur on his belly and brown spikey fur on his back. He has a pointy little nose and big brown eyes. He looks just like his mom! Jimmy thinks that New York City is the greatest city in the world and that New Year’s Eve is the best holiday ever. He is so excited to say goodbye to 2018 and welcome 2019 by watching the ball drop in Times Square. But Jimmy’s mom has an extra special treat for him before they go to Times Square.
“What’re we going to do today, mom?” Jimmy asks. “We are going to visit some friends to see how other cultures celebrate the new year!” Jimmy’s mom says. “First, we’re going to see your visit Bella the Pigeon and her family.” “Let’s go!” Jimmy yells.
Jimmy and his mom run as fast as they can through the busy streets of New York to get to Bella’s home in Little Italy. Bella and her family live inside of an old church tower. “Ciao!” Bella’s mom says as she opens the door to the tower and lets them inside. “That means ‘hello’ in Italian,” Jimmy’s mom whispers to him.
“Clara! Jimmy! Please come in,” Bella’s mom says. “Hi Jimmy! Where are your red pants?” Bella asks. “Why would I wear red pants?” Christmas is over! Jimmy says. “And I’m a hedgehog! Hedgehogs don’t need pants because we have fur and spikes to keep us warm!” “I don’t mean to keep you warm, silly,” Bella says. “It’s an Italian tradition, right mom?”
“It sure is,” Bella’s mom says. “Wearing red when the clock strikes midnight is supposed to bring you good luck!” Just then, Jimmy’s mom pulls out a package wrapped in bright red paper.
“Open it, Jimmy,” she says. “Red pants! Thanks Mom! Now I’ll ring in the new year with lots of good luck.” Jimmy changes into his red pants and everyone sits down to talk about their wishes for the new year. After an hour, Jimmy’s mom says it’s time to go.
“Bye Bella! Happy New Year!” Jimmy yells as they walk out into the street. “Where are we going now, Mom?” “We’re going to see your friend Karl the Polar Bear,” she says. Karl the Polar Bear lives in the Central Park Zoo with lots of other animals like seals, walruses, and penguins. He is very big and has fur as white as snow.
Karl is swimming in his pool when Jimmy and Clara arrive. “Hi Jimmy! Hi Clara!” he says as he swims over to meet them on the rocks. “Hi Karl!” Jimmy says. “Do you have any New Year’s Eve traditions?” “I do!” Karl says. “It is actually a Jewish tradition.”
“But isn’t Hanukkah over?” Jimmy asks. “It is,” Karl says. “But this tradition has nothing to do with Hanukkah! It can even be used for any new year celebration!” Karl takes out a bunch of apple slices and a jar of honey from behind one of the rocks.
“Yummy! A snack!” Jimmy says. “Not just a snack,” Karl says. “In Jewish tradition, eating apples and honey means you’ll have a sweet new year.” “I like this tradition,” Jimmy says as he dips an apple slice into the jar of honey.
After their snack and lots of laughs, Clara says that they must be going. “We have one more stop to make before we go to Times Square,” she says.
“Bye Karl! Happy New Year!” Jimmy calls behind him as they leave. “Where are we going now?” Jimmy asks his mom.
“We’re going to see my best friend Rosa the Alley Cat,” she says. “She lives in Spanish Harlem.”
“Do we have time, Mom? It’s almost midnight!” “We just have to stop in to get one thing,” she says. Since it is late and dark, Jimmy hops onto his mom’s back and she scurries through the streets up to Spanish Harlem. Jimmy leans against his mom and falls asleep. He dreams of big bowls of apples and honey.
“Honey, wake up. We’re at Rosa’s,” Clara says. “Hola Jimmy!” Rosa calls from the alleyway. She is a small cat with orange fur and eyes as green as a Christmas tree. “I wanted to give you something before you go to Times Square.” Rosa runs over to her home in the alley. Her human friend helped her make it out of wood and it looks like a little log cabin. Her home is filled with lots of soft blankets and tons of treats. She runs back out to Jimmy and drops a bag of grapes at his feet.
“Thanks! A snack for tonight!” Jimmy says. “Yes, there are 12 grapes for you to eat at midnight,” Rosa says. “For 12 months of good luck!” “Gracias, Rosa,” Jimmy says. “You’re welcome, Jimmy. I hope you have the luckiest new year!” “Will you come with us to watch the ball drop?” Clara asks Rosa.
“No thank you,” Rosa says. “But I will see you soon in the new year!” Jimmy hops onto his mom’s back again and they speed off towards Times Square, waving goodbye to Rosa. In Times Square, there are so many people! Everyone is cheering, clapping, and blowing horns and noisemakers. “We learned about a lot of great traditions today, didn’t we Jimmy?” Clara asks.
“We did! Can we start a New Year’s Eve tradition, mom?” “Yes, that is a great idea, Jimmy!” she says. “Do you have any ideas?” “How about we promise to spend every New Year’s Eve together?” Jimmy says.
“I like that idea a lot, honey,” she says. “Oh look! The ball is about to drop! Do you have your grapes ready?” “I do!” “10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...HAPPY NEW YEAR!” The crowd cheers as the sparkly ball drops. Jimmy and his mom eat their grapes and give each other a big hug. It is going to be a great year!