Friday, January 4, 2008

Happy New Years!

So I know it's a little past New Years, but I'm still recovering :) We had so much fun, I actually spent it with my family popping fireworks. In Hawaii, we are allowed to shoot fireworks and firecrackers (as long as they are not aerial) from 9:00 pm to 12:00 am on New Year's Eve and it is awesome; I've been doing it with my family for as long as I can remember; it's really a tradition in Hawai`i. People line up at Don Quixote (formerly Daiei which was formerly Holiday Mart) and Walmart to buy fireworks, and there are even little stalls that sell them. It's kinda funny because some of the stalls were selling Christmas trees (we get ours in shipping containers) and they switched to fireworks as soon as Christmas was finished.

Anyway, popping fireworks has long been a tradition, with mostly Chinese roots. It is believed that one must burn firecrackers to scare away the evil spirits and bring good fortune for the new year, which is why the firecrackers come in red paper (and rolls of 20, 30 or 40 thousand firecrackers!). In some ways it creates a lot of pollution (with smoke) but most people are responsible enought to sweep up the paper rubbish the fireworks make. In Hawaii, most people know that on New Years Eve they won't be getting much sleep because their neighbors will be popping fireworks long into the night! (It's also bad for pets and people with asthma).

There is actually quite a large trade in illegal fireworks too, aerials and really big ones that the stevedores (the ones who offload all of the shipping containers for all the islands) and construction workers (because they have connections) can get. On New Years Eve for example, they busted a guy who was selling illegal fireworks out of his garage; he had over $500,000 worth of fireworks!

They tried banning fireworks in the past because of pollution and noise complaints, but it really didn't work because it's so ingrained in the island culture, people were willing to break the law and could do so with relative ease (blackmarkets). And even though there are some bad aspects to it, I really feel it is a part of Island identity. Plus, it is sooooo much fun!

Here are my ultimate favorite fireworks; friendship pagodas! They come in little boxes all folded up, and you light them on fire and they spin and spark and at the end a little pagoda pops out! The older ones used to have red tissue in the window panes and when they popped up, the light on the inside would light up the windows :)

Hope everyone's New Year's was as fun as mine!

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