Ringing in 2019 Kiribati style

I had the amazing experience of attending a traditional new year’s celebration in North Tarawa. There really aren’t many travellers in Kiribati (there are expats working there but not many just on holiday) so I was lucky to meet a friendly European couple who introduced me to the hosts of this spectacular New Years Eve. They picked me up on the boat in the second picture and off we went.

The preparations began in the morning and the feast didn’t take place until after 1am. I helped decorate the maneaba with pieces of palm to make tassles, and of course i was as unco as ever, but I did eventually get the hang of it thanks to patient teachers. The girls wove these beautiful palm mats for the floor, and the boys/men were in charge of the preparing the pig. There were bonfires and sparklers and dancing and singing…copius amounts of alcohol, and an engagement!! There was also a dance troupe who were super talented— and people took turns rewarding them by tucking cash into their grass skirts.There were also lots of speeches, which seems to be the custom in Kiribati. Plus lots of games— freeze-tag, statues…and this hilarious song where you have to pretend to ride a motorbike around the maneaba…. basically, it’s not a culture for the shy!