‘Bang. Bang. Bang.’
It is just past midnight, on the 1st of January. I am greeting the New Year holding my shaking toddler, who has finally agreed to look out the window, to see the pretty lights that come with the terrifying noise that woke him. M is almost shouting the words, with force but no intonation. I don’t know if by joining in he hopes to calm himself. We watch for only a few moments before he wants away from the window, and cuddles on the couch with his father.
Although R and I are of course not frightened of the fireworks, we are rather bemused to find ourselves spectators of this Danish New Year. We had been told that NY was celebrated with friends, and everybody lets of fireworks. We didn’t expect this to mean constant crackers starting at 630, reaching an absolute crescendo at midnight for almost half hour before starting to tail off, with the final stragglers finishing, oh about 2am.
On our morning walk through deathly quiet streets the next day we saw evidence of crackers let off in the grass strips on the major roads, on footpaths, and throughout the nearby botanical gardens. Looking out our windows at midnight we could see neighbouring blocks with large parties gathering on balconies, and a large group of young men down on the street. Lacking the necessary culturally transmitted information we had expected only intermittent fireworks. When they were so persistent all evening we speculated that perhaps the custom was to have finished with fireworks by midnight. How wrong we were! These fireworks weren’t the basic sort, a flash of shooting blue or pink I remember from childhood, but elaborate (presumably expensive) bursts of colour or copper rain falling through the sky. If we hadn’t been so pressed to keep M calm perhaps we would have stepped outside ourselves, to admire the riot of colour across Aarhus’s night-sky.
This custom of personal celebrations comes at a price, with three confirmed dead in fireworks accidents this year, and hundreds more injured. I can’t imagine how Danes would react to being told to abandon their fireworks. The health and safety culture is completely non-existent here. Living here confirms over and over again that ‘Nanny state’ and a socialist system of government are two entirely different things; despite what many would like us to believe. Something that is deserving of its own blogpost, when I get around to it.
As it was we retired to bed, with M in-between us, listening to explosions, and to Magnus’s personal encyclopaedia – ‘Dolphins usually be in the water’, ‘People have feet’ etc, getting sleepier and more incoherent as time wore on. Perhaps it wasn’t the most exciting NY we’ve ever had. It was certainly one of the loudest though.