With New Year’s celebrations right around the corner, fireworks are once again becoming a hot topic in Denmark.
The country is believed to have celebrated New Year with a bang for centuries, as gunpowder was allegedly lit on the occasion as far back as the 17th century when Sweden besieged Copenhagen.
As The Local explained in an earlier article, during the siege, canons were fired three times on New Year’s Day in a sign of resilience and defiance.
Furthermore, in the pause between the canon shots, soldiers and residents in Copenhagen fired their own weapons.
The colourful display of fireworks is a key aspect of the tradition, but the loud noises they produce may have been the initial purpose behind their use. It is believed that the bangs were intended to frighten away evil spirits as people entered a new year.
While many Danes enjoy fireworks, in recent years, calls for stricter fireworks regulations have become more vocal.
Half of Danes want tighter regulations
Fireworks season is underway again – from December 27th (and up to January 1st), it is allowed to set off fireworks in Denmark.
However, half of Danes think that the time period for the legal use of fireworks should be further shortened, according to a survey that Kantar Gallup has carried out for the insurance company Gjensidige.
This is due, among other things, to considerations for pets, the environment, and climate.
“This says a lot about the times we live in, where nature and the environment have gained a much greater focus,” Henrik Sagild at Gjensidige noted in a press release.
Some critics also point to the risk of personal injury. The Danish Safety Technology Authority (Sikkerhedsstyrelsen) has – once again – launched a campaign to encourage the safe use of fireworks.
Last year, 178 people were injured by fireworks – 24 of them seriously. That’s far too many, according to the director of the Fireworks Industry Association, Karsten Nielsen.
At the same time, Nielsen points to the fact that the number of accidents should be viewed in relation to the actual number of fireworks used.
“The Danes light 100 million fuses in connection with celebrating the New Year. Is it (note: 24) a big or a small number (of accidents)? I think it is a relatively small number,” Nielsen added.
Tests carried out
The sale of fireworks in Denmark began on December 15th. Every year, the Safety Authority tests out the fireworks items that come into the market in the run-up to the New Year.
This year’s test shows that even if you buy your fireworks legally, you cannot always expect them to work properly.
In fact, out of 147 different firework items that were tested, one in three was faulty.
According to Nielsen, however, accidents are especially prominent in the use of illegal fireworks.
“It’s just as easy to get hold of as it is to scratch your back. I can send an email this afternoon, and then it will be at my address on Thursday,” he noted.
Nielsen believes that stronger efforts must be made to remove illegal fireworks from the market.