Happy New Year. With Fireworks

It’s officially the last few days of 2013. On the 31st, lots of Melbournians will pack locations with crystal clear views of the city’s skyline, count down to midnight and view bombastic, colourful fireworks displays, welcoming 2014.

There’ll be similar celebrations around the world. New Zealanders will be the first to usher in the New Year and feast their eyes on vivid explosions of fires in the skies. Those in Malaysia will get to see fireworks erupt around the Petronas Twin Towers.

Fireworks in the sky in Melbourne. It's hard to take our eyes off fireworks, something that we don't see too often. Photo: Mabel Kwong

Fireworks in the sky in Melbourne. It’s hard to take our eyes off fireworks, something that we don’t see too often. Photo: Mabel Kwong

There’ll be fireworks in Hong Kong too. And in Dubai. London. New York. Los Angeles. We all love fireworks, don’t we? It doesn’t matter if we’re Chinese, Indian, American, Spanish or any other race. When there are fireworks above us, we’ll face skywards. Why?

Perhaps this is because fireworks are an occasional sight. Or perhaps this has something to do with the importance of fireworks in many cultures. For instance, fireworks displays are prominent on the Fourth of July in the States, commemorating the country’s independence with much fanfare.

Hindus let off streams of fireworks and festive lights against the dark night sky during Diwali or the “festival of lights” which is associated with the myth about the triumph of light over darkness. Gun powder has its origins in Chinese culture; fireworks and firecrackers have always been part of celebrations for the Chinese, many whom believe the loud “popping” fireworks noises ward off evil spirits.

Many of us are drawn towards watching fireworks displays by various countries on TV or YouTube, aren’t we? I remember I was on holiday in Singapore a few years ago and was watching the news in a hotel here on New Year’s Eve. A story about Sydney’s and New Zealand’s New Year fireworks came on. From memory, my jetlagged body perked up instantly and my eyes popped open, fixated on the multi-coloured telly screen.

When the news pits their New Year fireworks spectaculars side by side, it seems like each country is in competition with one another for the title of “best display of fireworks”. But I suppose this is a soft competition where each country wins – we all unfailingly admire and go “waaahhh” at all dazzling fireworks we see on television or in reality in our town or another part of the world.

Fireworks in the sky
Way up high
Fiery symbols
A language we can all understand

What fills us
Is happiness
At least hope for the better
As we stand as one looking up at the sky

One can argue that we don’t think of and connect with those around us on a community level as we marvel at fireworks. Nevertheless for a few minutes, a festive spirit is in the air. We’re all emotionally connected as we stand together gazing upwards at a fire-lit sky, united in celebration with pretty much zero thoughts about cultural stereotypes and disdain towards other races standing around us. Multiculturalism for a little while.

Not everyone will be seeing fireworks this New Year’s Eve. Some of us will be too far from a city that lets off fireworks this time of the year and traveling to a place that does will take considerable effort. Some of us might not even give two cents about fireworks.

Regardless, we all know that a new year is upon us. A new beginning. For all of us, it’s another year where we’ll strive to be better people of better character. Work towards our dreams. Love the ones we love.

Happy New Year.

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10 thoughts on “Happy New Year. With Fireworks

  1. I can’t remember when was the last time I looked up at the sky to see the fireworks. It might have been long time ago. Perhaps, I’m not eager to see them but I will have “waaahhh” reaction when I look up at the sky and see their explosion to the instant beauty.

    Happy New Year. Hope you have a better year and go on.

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    • The last time I saw fireworks was around 9pm on Australia Day here in Melbourne. Usually it’s hard to see fireworks because 1) they are expensive to let off so people don’t let them off all the time, and 2) fireworks usually go off at midnight and that’s late at night. It’s also very crowded when we go see fireworks, very pushy when the show’s over.

      Thanks, Cotton. I hope to have a good year next year as this year has been very challenging on many fronts. I think I will go and see fireworks this year. Happy New Year, Cotton. I hope you have a good 2014 and keep blogging 🙂

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  2. In both Germany and Finland we have also much fireworks and many other traditions such as “fortune telling” by melting led and dropping it into water. There are the muncipalities organzisng fireworks but you can also buy them for a few days a year in stores (sales are very restricted in the European Union). For the past years the sky was usually so full of fog that the fireworks were barely visible, so nowadays I don’t even bother buying anything. Why spend money if I dont see that damn thing.

    When I was younger and spent new year in the countryside of Finland we had bonefires on the lakes. Imagine around -30 degrees celsius, terrible much snow and such bonfires on the frozen lakes. It looks really amazing and if you were lucky you got to see some northern lights 🙂

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    • That “fortune telling” activity seems like a good way to spice up New Year festivities. On the subject of fireworks, I’ve also heard about people being allowed to let off their own fireworks or firecrackers during the festive times of the years in their own backyards if they got their hands on some. I think many people buy them discretely, though as fireworks is dangerous (fire!). One of my friends said a while ago that if you get too close to fireworks (both the big bombastic and smaller kinds), ash will fall on your face and as you said, the atmosphere around you will be full of fog and it’s hard to see anything. I wonder how true this is as I’ve never gotten very close to fireworks before.

      I’m not a fan of cold weather at all, not sure if you are but it sounded like you had fun over the bonfires 🙂

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      • Hehe, actually I had fun out there even though it was damn cold. Normally I had cold weather but well, there can be exceptions such as in my New Years memories (I remember putting hot chocolate outside for a few minutes because it was too hot, after those ~4min it was solid frozen…)

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  3. I was in Sydney in 2008 Dec 31 – up until we took the train home, it was lots of fun. However, it was just madness afterwards. All the pushing and shoving to get inside the train was ridiculous. Australians were yelling at me because another Australian was pushing me from behind. I know this isn’t characteristic of Australians, but at that particular moment it was a horrific. I almost felt like the guy behind me was going to break my back. There was no where I could move except where the crowd was pushing me.

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    • So sorry to hear that you had an unpleasant experience in Sydney. Trains aren’t that reliable here and perhaps the train that you were getting on was one of the last ones for the night. Being (post) New Year Eve celebrations, most likely most of those public transport commuters were under the influence of alcohol or something of the like. You definitely get a lot of crazies yelling about here in Australia sadly; standing up for yourself is part of the culture here. I’m out and about this New Year’s Eve, let’s see if the same happens to me 🙂

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