We didn’t start the fire – but the sparks are pretty

Any Billy Joel fan will recognise that line, but don’t be lead astray by that. I’m probably one of thousands with an opinion about fireworks. It’s hard to contribute to a topic already bursting with combustible hot air. People are red faced enough at either end of the spectrum to warrant their own brand of rocket, spinning like Catherine wheels if someone dares to express and alternative.

We seem a country hung up on traditions, claiming them, creating them, changing them but throw in the possibility of legislation stepping in and you had better stand back coz that wick is pretty short. There is a funny sort of categorisation of appropriateness when it comes to socially sanctioned celebrations. Religious holidays always have that edge of ‘but do you know why’ and I understand that as acknowledging that some traditions have particular origins. But generally, we don’t seem to care if easter eggs are sold early or after easter, there is no ‘chocolate police’. On Valentine’s Day the Emergency Department isn’t full of broken hearts needing restarting, or burns from scorned lovers. Christmas and Halloween now bracket Guy Fawkes in New Zealand and our cultural calendar of events with varying degrees of acceptance, so it seems we are stuck with if you can’t beat them join in or start a petition.

I do get the safety aspect around letting off fireworks and I’m not all that fond of loud noises – so I’m not exactly ‘woohoo’ about sky rockets, but I do like a good bonfire. People sometimes think that explaining the origins of celebrations helps give more meaning and value to an experience…like that worked for Halloween yeah right.

If you are out there tonight setting large amounts of cash on fire, enjoy it, be safe. The fire brigade will be run off their feet and they will not want to hear ‘we didn’t start the fire’ as you are ‘burning down the house’…cue Talking Heads or The Prodigy – firestarter.


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