Silvester in Germany is synonymous with fireworks

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

On Christmas Eve and Christmas day in Germany, it really does tend to be Silent Night, with the sidewalks rolled up pretty much everywhere.

Come New Year’s Eve, however, the scenario couldn’t be more different.

From tiny villages to bustling metropolises, as the midnight hour on Silvester approaches, the streets begin to come alive with revelers. In many households, TVs are tuned in to the festivities in Berlin, and a toast with the German bubbly known as Sekt marks the magic hour itself. Once the year has been duly greeted, a great number of people will take to the streets. They’re heading out of doors not to watch municipally sponsored displays of fireworks, but to shoot off their own mini-arsenals they’ve amassed over a three-day period between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

According to handelsdaten.de, Germans are expected to spend about 137 million euros on rockets, firecrackers and other things that go boom in the night, a figure similar to the amount they spent procuring the pyrotechnics used to greet the start of 2018.

The sale and shooting off of fireworks is strictly governed by law. The “Klasse 2” category of fireworks (rockets, Roman candles, light fountains), can only be purchased by those ages 18 or over. The window for purchasing Klasse 2 fireworks in 2018 is between Dec. 28 and Dec. 31 (but note most shops shut around mid-day on this date).

The law of the land states that fireworks can only be shot off only within the 48-hour window between December 31 and Jan. 1. Cities and towns might also impose their own even narrower restrictions.

Should you choose to enter the fireworks fray, you’d do well to observe the following:

  • The chances of getting hit by a stray rocket are high. Small kids don’t belong out there, period.
  • To avoid scorch marks on your holiday finery or brand-new parka, ditch your nice coat in favor of something old and expendable.
  • Hats, gloves and even protective eyewear wouldn’t be amiss. It really can be a jungle out there.

Some sad drunks think it’s all fun and games to shoot fireworks directly into the crowds. If that’s the case, extract yourself from the situation immediately. A visit to the emergency room is no way to start the New Year!

To live stream the Silvester action from Brandenburg Gate, go online.

From 9:45 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. the following day, they’ll be broadcasting the moderation and the musical acts on stage there, to include Nico Santos, Alice Merton, Tony Hadley from Spandau Ballet, Eagle-Eye Cherry, Bonnie Tyler and a Village People reunion of sorts with the original native American, soldier and construction worker characters taking to the stage.

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