Friday, January 10, 2014

New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve is big in Germany. Last year, we had no idea. We were shocked by the fireworks and commotion on our little residential street. We tried to wake up the kids so they could experience it all but they would not emerge from their beds. This year we talked it up. We bought fireworks in Amsterdam, thinking all stores would be closed when we returned to Germany on Dec. 31 but luckily they weren’t. We made sure we had matches. We took naps. We were ready.
A few minutes before midnight the kids were out on our street, which dead ends into the forest about 400 meters past our house. No one else was out. There was a party going on at a nearby house but no one seemed ready for fireworks. The kids were a little disappointed but rallied when Phil lit some sparklers for them. We had a few other little fireworks that made popping noises and shot confetti. We broke them all out. Finally, Phil brought out the big firework box he bought at the grocery store that day. He lit it and it launched about thirty feet into the sky and erupting into a real “Disneyland-like” display. We were shocked and couldn’t believe all that pyrotechnic power was available for 4 euros. Adam promptly declared that next year he will spend all his Christmas money on fireworks from the grocery store.
Then, just when we were about to pack it up, the neighbors came out. Guys started pulling firework rockets out of cars. Our village is on a hill with the southern view extending to Starnberg Lake and the Alps. The whole horizon was dotted with firework displays. Houses up and down our street started launching fireworks off. When we say fireworks we don’t mean the handheld ones you might know from 4th of July parties in the states. We are talking fireworks you might know from city sponsored fireworks. It was all pretty colorful, loud and exciting. The kids didn’t know which way to look until the neighboring party started launching. We then watched that for the next hour straight.
The thing about fireworks here is that it seems to go against the cultural grain. In all other aspects of life, Germany is a well regulated society. There are rules for noise but for New Year’s Eve, all is forgiven. Honestly, our first thought when we heard all the fireworks was that our other neighbors would get upset but apparently not. Half burnt fireworks streamed out of the sky, landing on the street, on our thankfully cement roof.  The next morning we found all sorts of firework debris in our yard.  A pretty dramatic start to the new year but actually not as dramatic as all three of our kids staying awake until midnight for the first time ever!


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