Thousands of years ago a Chinese man discovered gunpowder. As a result one of greatest inventions to ever come out of China was a firework. Every Chinese New Year/Spring Festival the Chinese set off tons of fireworks. Originally fireworks were used in ancient China to drive away evil spirits, they also signify a joyful time of year and has become an integral aspect of Chinese New Year celebrations.

Unlike America, fireworks are NOT highly regulated. On every other street corner there is someone has set up a stall selling all types of fireworks and firecrackers. They range from little poppers to loud poppers, to gigantic starburst explosions. Anyone, of any age can buy them.

I set a limit and I told myself that I would only spend 100 RMB on fireworks. I thought that was a fair number. I talked with some of my students about fireworks and they told me that they are getting 1000-2000 RMB from their parents to spend on fireworks. Rich kids, I hate them/ I’m jealous of them. I bought some fireworks last night I can see how easily you could spend 1000 RMB on fireworks.

Erev Spring Festival (the night before Spring Festival was about to begin) we bought some firecrackers. These were the loud bang firecrackers. They make a loud explosion on the ground and then another one once it has been skyrocketed into the air. They were extremely loud. Being the geniuses that we are we thought that it if one was cool, two would be better. So we decided to put two fireworks together and light them at the same time. At this point the Chinese who were watching us started to back away. (We should have known at that moment that this was a bad idea).

Being the natural born leader that I am, I took the lead and decided I would light it. I put the fuses together, lit them and ran a safe distance away (or so I thought). We heard and saw one bang on the ground then the second in the air (from that first firecracker). We were waiting to hear/see the second cracker but since it was dark we couldn’t see where the second one went and then all of a sudden BANG there was an explosion on my jacket. The concussion of the first one exploding on the ground shot the second one straight at me, and it blew up inches away from my face.

The morning of Spring Festival was like waking up in the middle of Baghdad or some war zone. At 7am I was woken up by the sounds of fireworks going off. My friends Matt and James made it a point to come right outside of my window and shoot off the loudest firecrackers they had. There wasn’t five consecutive minutes of silence all day.

It is cool to listen to for about an hour but then you want to do things like read a book, go on the internet, or watch a movie and it is impossible because all you hear is a boom boom boom or a rat-a-tat-tat from the fireworks. It was hard to just hear yourself think.

The explosions are so loud and fierce that they set off all the car alarms all around them. So even after the firework goes off we are left hearing the car alarms blaring. People didn’t stop shooting off their fireworks until 1 am. I now understand how people living in war torn countries have nervous breakdowns.

After that first day the fireworks have died down a bit. I still wake up to the sound of them but they are much less frequent. A Fourth of July fireworks celebration doesn’t even compare to the amount and extent of what is going on here. Go figure I came to the one country where fireworks aren’t illegal and I wont get arrested for setting them off.

Shin’nian Kwai’le – Happy New Years


About JoelS

Spending a year teaching English and saving the world in China
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