December 30, 2005

Firey new year

It's almost New Year's Eve now, and once again Holland is subjected to barrages of firepower in the form of fireworks. Officially, fireworks can be bought in the three days prior to the new year, and lit on December 31.

In reality, it's a bit different.

For a week or so leading up to the day, fireworks start to appear in the sky, somewhat against the rules. Kids who have been saving their crackers and rockets since last year start with a few 'trial runs', and the gentle thud of these earlybirds echo across the country, occasionally accompanied by a loud bang as a local kid 'tests' one in a garbage bin nearby. As the big night draws closer, the barrage increases in ferocity, with some daredevils trying out rockets and even mortars.

The real pyrotechnic connoisseurs make their annual pilgrimage to Belgium, stocking up their backyard armoury with significantly larger firepower which isn't limited by the Dutch rule of about 200grams of powder per device. These pilgrims risk confiscation of their stash, some are even arrested as they cross the border. The true fan will have stocked up in the months before when the borders are largely unmanned, returning with the piece of mind that their now-APC is safe from detection.

Tomorrow from early morning will see the fireworks get their real test. For the whole day, crackles, pops, bangs and whistles will sound all around Utrecht, usually from kids making the most of the day. Towards midnight the real party begins, when from the stroke of midnight thousands of tons of ordnance will be let off into the sky under the influence of a few too many glasses of bubbly.

Some people will get hurt, perhaps even a cafe will burn down, but for about half an hour after midnight, Holland will sound just like Baghdad did in March '03. And the vast majority of people will thoroughly enjoy it all, spending the next couple of weeks trampling over soggy red cracker residue.

Naturally, I'm part of this celebration too, having stocked up on my arsenal. The video camera will be at the ready, and I'll hopefully have a few video clips of the action to put here in the new year.

Happy new year ot all!

Posted by Ben at December 30, 2005 10:59 PM
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