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.
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
A language we can all understand
What fills us
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.