Do you know that the Dutch spend to the tune of 68 million Euros just on fireworks alone to celebrate the New Year? Mind you, that number was already a 3 million Euro increase from 2015 according to the Dutch pyrotechnic association.
That’s how much the Dutch love their fireworks and just 5 days ago, we had the ultimate Dutch experience of the mayhem where those pyrotechnics were flying right above our roof and our heads!
While the Dutch law stipulates that fireworks can only be set off 6 pm – 2 a.m on New Year’s Eve and that’s about IT with the city council indicating a completely ban of certain zone, we were already hearing random fires before 5 p.m.
The eruption increased as each minutes went by. The kids were excited by the prospects of seeing some spectacular legal fireworks right in front of their doorstep. Just like last year, they can’t wait to be woken up before midnight.
By the time the clock strikes midnight, the anarchy began as we exchanged wishes with the neighbours. Suddenly, our little village looked like we were in a war zone!
Every single corner was lit up. Fireworks were going off every millisecond, non-stop; capable of waking up the dead and so very overwhelmingly loud that Spud was traumatised. She got so scared that she refused to step outside.
15 minutes into the freak show, I began to wonder if any of the nearby trees would catch fire. Half an hour into it, I started to worry if we’d still have our home intact. Forty-five minutes into it, a rogue firework nearly blew our front-door off. The kids, who were already in the house much earlier saw that huge ball of fire whizzing right in front of them.
Silver Bullet and several of our neighbours had to take cover. Then , right at that time, there was me: I was just about to walk out of the front door oblivious to what was happening outside to look for Silver Bullet as it all happened, but was being called in by crying kids as soon as they saw me disappeared behind the wall.
We had a very apologetic neighbours.
By then, I have had enough. It was getting too loud, too much, too chaotic.
But this went on for at least another 2 full hours and all of us nervous to venture out. We couldn’t sleep even if we had wanted to.
Although it could be deemed as another normal celebration by Dutch standards, even the neighbours thought that it was over the top.
I don’t like it one bit. I even felt a little mad when I realised how much it affected a highly sensitive child like Spud. (She couldn’t sleep after that and then her night terrors followed suit). Then a thought hit me that made me even madder: I know that we have a few Syrian refugees living in our neighbourhood and this explosion all around was just too cruel! How could their new year be pleasant for them? It’s kind of cruel!
In a time like that, I think of Singapore fondly. We grew up in a place where chewing gums and personal fireworks are banned, making me appreciate our clinically clean country even more. With fireworks, they would be large, spectacular and done only by professionals on special occasions for the entire countrymen to enjoy.
All of that restrictions in return for a clean and safe environment. All for the greater good so to speak. I do miss Singapore.
For new year in 2018, I’m suggesting that we flee our neighbourhood before New Year’s Eve. I think that was enough Dutch craziness for an evening. In fact, it was way too much for me, the kids and the cats. 2 days later, people are still firing away.
The mess on the streets were not cleaned up with some unexploded fireworks lying around for curious little kids to find. Such irresponsibility pisses me off.
I’m thankful that nothing untoward happened that evening to anything or anyone. There was no need for us to buy our own fireworks and I’m glad we didn’t because I was against it even though Silver Bullet initially wanted to.
Call me a stickler. A spoil-sport. A party pooper. A kill joy. Whatever. I don’t care. Unless you are a pyrotechnic expert by profession, there will be no lighting of personal fireworks anywhere near me or my kids. Those stuff are not worth the mess they are capable of leaving behind; dead or alive.
And, if there’s a petition to ban fireworks in the neighbourhood or the entire country, I’m signing for it! I’m all for a complete ban. Where do I sign up?