Sunday, 26 September 2010

Mid-Autumn Fireworks

Every year in Taiwan between September and October (according to the Chinese lunar calendar) there is a festival known as the "Moon Festival" or "Mid-Autumn Festival". According to the wikipedia entry, it goes back to the Shang Dynasty, 3000 years ago, which I believe would make it older than Samhain, the Celtic precursor to Halloween. The government in Taipei declares a one day long national holiday, and people get ready to turn themselves into barbecuing, fireworking ghouls all night long.

I have a problem with fireworks. I've always disliked Guy Fawkes night on the 5th November in England (let's all burn an effigy of the only man who entered parliament with honest intentions...) primarily because, as someone who has always looked after dogs, I dislike fireworks for the terror their noise inflicts upon dogs - and I've never really liked fireworks all that much anyway. I suppose their attraction must be a cheap form of the same mechanism behind Kant's "dynamical sublime", danger sublimated to pleasure by the safety of distance. That, however, is perhaps less true with sparklers. When they were given to the kids I was the first one to tell them to be careful not to point those things anywhere near the other children's eyes.

Anyway, I like the barbecues and the less noisy of the fireworks are OK with me, but the rest of it I don't like simply because it means I can't take my dog outside to the park.

It was filled with seemingly hundreds of teenagers and early 20s five year olds setting off fireworks.

The next day, however, I had expected the park to be a mess, but I was surprised to find it wasn't that bad and that the Uni kids had more or less tidied up after themselves, leaving behind black refuse bags full of garbage, rather than leaving it littered all over the ground.

The beach at Anping was far worse however (I don't take my camera to the beach) - there were dead fireworks and oyster shells everywhere; I could feel them under my feet six or seven yards from shore. The other thing with fireworks is that, in addition to the mess they make if not tidied up properly (and that must be an unlikely prospect in the dark), there are always some left over. So for a dog owner like me, it's not just one day of fireworks to put up with, but the next couple of days as well as the kids let off those (typically in the morning at the beach when I'm running with my dog) that they still have left over from the Mid-Autumn festival.

And then there's the Taoist religious parades letting off their firecrackers... but at least that tends to be over with in twenty minutes or so.

All of that might make me sound like an old woman or something, but I don't care: fireworks are for five year olds and they are a nuisance externality which I could do without, especially three or four days after the Moon Festival has finished. I just drove past - my dog with me - an old man letting them off on an otherwise quiet street corner at 11.30am this Sunday morning. Inconsiderate bastard. I'll carry water with me next time to throw on the goddamned things.

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