The Germans are remarkably responsible people. I mean, there cannot be many other nations in the world where people stand to attention at a pedestrian crossing waiting for the green Ampelmann to give them the all clear despite the fact there is not a car within a three mile radius and the weather is like a scene from The Tempest. The very same nation that shuns microwave ovens for fear of the damaging effects on the molecular structure of the food being heated. However, that impeccable approach to responsibility does lapse once a year – at New Year in fact when the tradition is to get plastered and lob fireworks (and lots of them) at one another.
German safety awareness really seems to take a back seat when it comes to the sale, handling and use of said fireworks. I was in my local Globus supermarket today and was astonished to see huge rockets, Catherine wheels, fire crackers, Roman candles and much more thrown into a large basket between the special offer on coffee pads and women’s knickers. One has to remember, these things (the fireworks, not the knickers) are packed full of gunpowder and in the wrong hands can seriously injure or even kill people, let alone start fires. Back home in the UK the sale of fireworks is strictly controlled and getting stricter by the year, with shop keepers being obliged to keep them under lock and key and sell them only to adults. In contrast, here in Germany you can pick up rockets big enough to down a light aircraft along with your milk and toilet rolls.
I don’t want to sound like a party pooper, but I really do think fireworks should be treated with the utmost respect – I know people that have been injured by them and I also know a family whose house was burned down by a stray rocket. I recall my first Silvester in Germany – it was in Berlin and honestly it was like a battlefield whete the only thing you could hear around midnight was explosions followed by sirens. Next morning, the streets were littered with spent cartridges, cans and bottles and the air reeked of gunpowder. Must have been terrifying for the very young, elderly and animals.
Anyway, the point I am trying to make is just be careful, not of yourself but of others. Fireworks and booze never is a good combination so it is wise to avoid areas where people are indiscriminately throwing the things around like toys.
STAY SAFE AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!