Written by: Sophie Ward
It may be an unpopular opinion but I hate fireworks. In fact, ‘hate’ may be too weak a word to use here. My detestation for these colourful displays of ‘celebration’ does not lie with the short bursts they paint the sky with, but with the sound they make. The loud, menacing explosions make me wish I was hearing something less offensive: tone deaf singing during karaoke night, a car horn during a traffic jam, a crying child on an aeroplane, nails on a chalkboard.
I should state that, although I do hate fireworks, I am not against the public displays where they are used. I would never willingly go to such an event – my idea of hell is a place where bangs and booms can be heard – however, if others want to go then that’s their prerogative. I just don’t get how watching things sparkle in the sky is connected to celebrating an event. It’s the New Year so we must pollute the air with noise, light and smoke? Yes, lights can be pretty, and fire is cool, but I think that since we’re in the 21st century human culture can set their sights a little bit higher.
Fireworks, of course, are used to apparently improve many particular dates. For us it’s November 5 and when the clock strikes midnight on December 31. For our friends across the pond it’s July 4, while India uses them throughout their Festival of Lights. During the Chinese Spring Festival it would be weird to see nothing in the sky. Again, I have to reiterate that I don’t totally get it, but I don’t take a stance that these nights should be fire-free. I’ll even go so far to say that on these dates going to a public display could be considered ‘fun’ for some people.
Okay, I should probably also admit that once during Bonfire Night, many years ago, I went to an event with friends that featured fireworks, but I did spend it making sarcastic comments before almost stealing a light-saber – but that’s a story for another time.
Public displays have an element of safety, unlike amateur firework displays. I am always reminded of another Bonfire Night when I happened to look out of the window and became witness to a neighbour who set off a firework. I suppose it was meant to reach the sky but instead it almost hit a red Ford Focus. Amateur fireworks displays do not have the same element of safety to them, and it’s these types of displays that feed my loathing.
I find the people who happen to get their hands on fireworks a couple of days before each Bonfire Night or New Years Eve, letting them off in the lead up to those dates, insufferable. Making those first couple days in November overly noisy, the streets messier, and all the while terrifying small animals. This is not celebrating. This is stupidity.
The main reason why I am writing this feature is because I am currently in China. A place where fireworks are extremely common. So common that the ‘right time’ for fireworks (evening 7pm till 11pm) is not taken into account. I have awoken to the un- soothing sounds of “bang bang bang” at 6am, and even heard the familiar toot on a random Tuesday at midnight. Any hour, any day, you will hear the fateful sound of fireworks. I should point out that these are not for any special display either; honestly they seem to be let off in acts of boredom.
I should probably be used to the bellowing outbursts by now, but still, when I’m walking alone at night and one goes off I have a short heart attack and imagine that I’ve travelled back in time to 1940’s London. I swear that when I return to the UK Bonfire Night will give me Vietnam flashbacks.