Early Rejser: Starting the New Year without a bang 

It’s New Year’s Eve and I’m reclining by the fireside. My hand clasps a glass of cold champagne and those well-known lines of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ turn my thoughts to friends old and new. 

Or rather I dreamed of that scene as I stood in the dark bedroom, arms aching from the weight of a flailing, wailing baby, while rockets exploded outside.

I’ve always doubted the magic of NYE. I thought its only power was making you feel like a loser for not having a better time. But I doubt its magic no longer. It turned our dog – a sturdy, stoic soul who takes a toddler’s kick to the face with unflinching grace – into a trembling wreck. It turned our toddler, who had just mastered the art of sleeping like a dog, into a howling, waking nightmare. 

Need a NYE revolution
Six years ago, on my first NYE in Copenhagen, I sat alone on a Vanløse balcony watching with awe as the sky came alive. Today, burdened with dog and offspring, I have cause to look less fondly upon 12 straight hours of deafening explosions. 

I’m not such a scrooge I would deny others an experience I once enjoyed because my circumstances changed. But the downsides to the experience aren’t limited to my circumstances, and those who share my newfound resentment for the event outnumber those who enjoy it. 

Pet owners have long been maddened by NYE. The phrase ‘barking mad’ was coined in 1809 when a fireworks display at Frogmore, held to celebrate the golden jubilee of George III, drove the royal dogs into a frenzy that didn’t abate for days. Pets aside, everyone should be maddened, not because I fabricated that anecdote, but because the planet’s supposed green capital marks the new year by polluting it. 

No smoke without fireworks 
There’s the litter: the boxes and shells strewn all over our parks and roads. And there’s the environmental damage, which no army of street sweepers can clean up. I could have looked up fancy stats about greenhouse gases, but I think common sense should suffice here: fireworks are made of plastic, metal, chemicals and fucking gunpowder, so I think we should just agree not to blow millions of them up in our lower atmosphere. 

One stat I do have is that 250 pigeons are killed every year by fireworks in Denmark.  If your first thought was “So what?”, I’d point out that pigeons are just non-white doves and you’re just a bird racist. If your first thought was “You’ve made that up too”, you’re absolutely right. The impact on birds must be severe though. Imagine what fish would think if half the city spent an evening firing explosives into the ocean. 

New acquaintance be forgot?
So, the victims of fireworks are: pets, pet owners, infants, parents, birds, street sweepers and Planet Earth, with victims also found amongst the revellers – hundreds of whom get injured every year.

I’m not the sort to call for bans, but fireworks are already banned in Denmark 99 percent of the time. Why not make it 100? This isn’t The Purge. We have no ancient, base tendency towards firework displays we must vent to prevent us craving Catherine Wheels all year round. 

Tradition and lack of political will are why the show goes on, but when the environment’s at risk, there’s no excuse for either. I suppose you could excuse the sale of eco-friendly fireworks. But frankly I don’t care how friendly they make them. They’re still going to scare the shit out of my dog.