Psychiatrists can surely explain the German love affair with fireworks. Uneducated and prejudiced people would probably point to the legacy of Adolph, but I doubt this is the case. Being buttoned-up, disciplined, and boring all year, they need an outlet to blow off steam. Or, rather, blow up something. They do this with fireworks on New Year’s Eve, the only time fireworks are permitted.
Germans spend around 140 million euros on fireworks. As with religion, children learn about fireworks from their parents, so the traditions is firmly entrenched. No politician would think of outlawing the “fun”. Besides, they cash in on taxes from sales of explosives.
Every grocery store sells them, as shown in the two-page advertisements of one chain. At midnight—often before for eager children and childish adults—the air is filled with the sound exploding black powder. From outer space, this small bit of the Earth’s surface must look like the inside of a disco or a fireworks factory experiencing an accident.
This brings us to the much-anticipated Word of the Day: Feinstaub. That is what Germans worry about as much as people used to worry about nuclear war. All motor vehicles (except Tesla) and especially diesel-powered vehicles emit particles. Germany has strict standards and many cities prohibit cars and trucks with older engines. Of course, the government looks the other way, when automobile manufactures cheat on the numbers, but they must protect jobs in the auto industry.
Anyway, Germans are less worried about particles emitted on New Year’s Eve, even if the number is surprisingly high. An estimated 5000 tons are emitted into the German atmosphere on one evening, which is about 17% of total emissions of all motor vehicles in a year. No one complains. This is what Germans call freedom. American might have guns; Germans have fireworks once a year.
Men are afraid that women will laugh at them,
whereas women are afraid that men will kill them.
“I do feel a responsibility to society because of going into print: a writer has the duty to be good, not lousy; true, not false; lively, not dull; accurate, not full of error. He should tend to lift people up, not lower them down. Writers do not merely reflect and interpret life, they inform and shape life.”
You would never know, without the help of a calendar, that the days are inexorably becoming longer. A week has passed since the winter solstice, so we are already marching towards summer. Of course, the folk living in Erie, Pennsylvania, might not have noticed or might not believe you, if you mentioned this fact in passing.
Despite little to no visible evidence, just the thought of longer days makes one hopeful. Long hours of darkness are less depressing, albeit inclement weather adds to the sense of doom. At least we have television and internet to offer visuals of beaches and sunshine. On top of these can be layered memories or imagined scenes. A good novel lets one wander the world to better, more-interesting places, where the sun always shines.
Anyone that reads my garbage will know that I have a love-hate relationship with England or “Great” Britain or “United” Kingdom or whatever these insignificant islands want to label themselves or be labeled. I am happy that I am not a citizen; not capable of or willing to bow down to the puppets known as the “royal family”, I would become join with anyone fomenting revolution.
That said, English/UK/GB news can be entertaining, especially coverage of and effervescing over “royals” and aristocrats.
The latest bit to cause chuckles is the pending addition of an American babe. People—especially media owners and knick-knack producers—are experiencing wetness in critical locations whenever the name is mentioned or photo seen. Of major significance is that the “queen” is not only speaking to said interloper, but has also sanctioned a marriage. Where else is a grandmother’s permission needed to marry. Discussions/speculation about the appropriate title are raging, with speculation rife in all media. The queen’s visit to church is always closely watched, to see who goes with her and what everyone wears. Because the newly was present, the level of excitement was off the chart. The biggest feature was the “first curtsy” to the queen. Although an actress, she must have not learned her pose, because the papers were full of rhetorical questions, such as “was the curtsy correct?” What a silly word and a even sillier gesture. In what century do we live? Perhaps you will now understand the urge to revolt…
The word is zwei, which means 2. Anyone having seen an old WW2 film might recall scenes of German soldiers marching prisoners, call “Eins, zwei; eins, zwei; eins, zwei”.
As with most numbers, this one is useful, even if what it is modifying might not be clear. Today is Zweite Weihnachten or Second Christmas Day, aka Boxing Day in England. Although I have lived here many years, I do not understand the meaning of or need for a second Christmas Day. Nor do I understand Boxing Day. Of course, I have never asked, but that is beside the point.
For those that work, I suppose that it is nice to have an additional holiday. For me, it is merely another day of sloth. The English, always wont to copy Americans, have sporting matches and huge sales on this day. Germans, being German, legislate strict closure of businesses and schedule no games.
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.