New Year’s Eve is upon us. Only a few days left, and then the air will be filled with bangs and sizzles. Heralding the new year with fireworks seems to be something inevitable. But with all the downsides to fireworks, why do we still light them?
Scaring off Ghosts
Traditionally, fireworks were used to scare of evil spirits. In Chinese cultures, it was common to use them several times a year at different celebrations. The main thought was that if humans and animals could become scared by all the bangs, than evil ghosts would be frightened as well. Lighting some rockets into the air would free the village of misfortune for a while so that everyone could live without fear.
Entertainment for Europe
When European businessmen discovered these magical sky colourings, they decided to take some back with them. Once home again, fireworks soon became a hit with the European nobility. After that, it’s growing popularity has never really stopped. If it was an uncommon and luxurious means of celebration at first, nowadays fireworks are everywhere at New Years Eve.
Millions of Euros
I think it is justified to say that the fireworks madness has gotten quite out of hand. In 2012 there was spent a shocking total of 70 million Euros on fireworks in the Netherlands alone! Think of all the other things you could do with that amount of money. What a waste to literally blow it all away.
Disaster for the Environment
But it’s not the money that bothers me most. After all, people are free to do with their money as they choose, but the impact on the environment, that is something that should be reckoned with. Because while merrily firing away, the atmosphere becomes filled with harmful substances. With all the greenhouse gasses released in the air at New Year’s Eve, it almost seems laughable to try and solve the climate crisis by making cleaner cars.
And it is not only the climate that is affected, but think of all the animals as well. Both wild and domestic animals suffer a lot during the New Year’s celebrations. It’s only natural for them to flee this terror and it takes quite a while before they are brave enough to try to return. In the garden at my parents’ house, for example, it always takes weeks before all the birds are back after New Year’s Eve. As for domestic animals, is it really the best option to try and make your dog accept the fireworks? All of its instincts are telling the dog to run away and hide. Do you think it is fair to expect the poor animal to overcome that, so that we humans can have a bit of “fun”?
Why not Less?
All in all, why do we even light fireworks? Ok, some rockets are just beautiful with all their colours in the sky. But why all the bangs, all the noise? And why the excess? Wouldn’t it just be enough to have some organised fireworks in every town and be content with that? I think that would be sufficient to scare off any possible evil spirits, and it would save us all a lot of money and anguish. This year in the Netherlands the legal times for lighting fireworks are severely cut down on, which is a step in the good direction. But we are not there yet, and I hope we can all work together to a future with significantly less fireworks. Wouldn’t that make things a lot easier at New Year’s Eve?
How do you feel about fireworks?