War Zone or Celebration?

Fireworks Display
It’s that time of year again. Today begins the official day when fireworks are legally for sale across the Netherlands. In theory, they’re to be saved until December 31/January 1, between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. In reality, they’ve been going off sporadically for the past couple of weeks.

We were on Nachtegaalstraat this week and passed one of the bicycle shops, which seems to also serve as a licensed fireworks vendor. They had an impressive display in one of their front windows. Unlike the US, where fireworks are usually limited mainly to officially organized set events, here they are set off by your average Nederlander anywhere there’s space (or not) to set them off. And we’re not talking small firecrackers and the occasional Roman candle. We’re talking major starbursts and rockets and the kind of stuff I was only used to seeing at the official Fourth of July fireworks displays on the edge of town in the US. Here, I can see the same kind of display from my bedroom window.


The Dutch spend a lot of money on it all, too. It’s estimated that this year’s sales will be around €65 million. In a country with a population of 16 million. Sadly, the population does go down in numbers every year as a result of fireworks-related accidents. They’re trying to cut down on the number of illegal fireworks sold and there’s certainly a lot of reminders to be careful, but in the heat of the moment, things go a bit crazy. With all of the smoke from the fireworks, it truly does look like footage from a war zone.

I love watching fireworks, but sadly, our dog does not. As a result, some of my enjoyment of them is lessened, because it’s hard to enjoy them when your 70-pound dog is quivering and panting in fear. We try to distract him, but sadly there’s nowhere to go in the house where he won’t hear them. No mercy is right, unfortunately.

No Mercy


Spare a thought for Pippo this December 31. He’s not a fan of this holiday and a scarf over his ears doesn’t help dampen the noise. Trust me, we tried.
Poor Pathetic Puppy

6 thoughts on “War Zone or Celebration?

  1. Lovely to watch on 31 Dec. but there are so many things to consider on the side: the money spent (with prospects of a not very cheerful year coming up due to the crisis), the misery the noise causes to pets and children, the mess left behind on the streets afterwards and of course, the accidents. In Argentina more than 200 people got injured during Chirstmas Eve – one person even died when a firecracker exploded in his mouth. Do they learn the lesson and cut down on fireworks the next year? I’ll let you know in 2012….

  2. Each year we get ads by SIRE on the tv to warn against injuries. SIRE is well-known for it’s hard-hitting ads and these are no exception; people with facial burns or missing fingers warn the public against the misuse of fireworks. Yet, every year there are accidents, unfortunately. The worst thing of all is the day after, when kids look for firecrackers in the streets that haven’t gone off and try and light them. Because often the fuse has already burned away, the firecrackers set off immediately and can do real damage. That was one of the things my mom warned me about over and over again when I was a child. Let’s just hope that this year the casualties (people and pets) are kept to a minimum.

  3. Wow, this is a great post! The Dutch do spend a lot on it each year – I was told by a few Dutch men that some boys even save up most of their money throughout the year for it. Especially it seemed to be the case in mijn buurt. They were very much into it. It’s been a while since I have looked around on through my favorite blogs & am glad I have had the time this week to do so – Great to see you’re still blogging!

    Ik wens je een prettig nieuwjaar 🙂

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