by Delilah Sheraton
It's no wonder that Beijing rescinded its ban on fireworks for the Year of the Dog. After all, it is a great Chinese tradition to celebrate the New Year with a roar and blaze of gunpowder. Simply put, if you were to strip the holiday down to its bare customs, you would have hong baos, jiaozi, fireworks, and bad television. It's amazing that the capital's citizens ever made it through the previous 12 new years without the explosive pops, cracks, and hissing flames flying through the night skies, to the delight of children and terror of the elderly everywhere.
This year's celebration was a booming success, not only in sales, but in a blasting scene of outdoor spectacular akin to a nuclear eruption. Man, woman, child, and toddler were seen on the city streets everywhere, unleashing their bottle-banned energy via Roman candles and cherry bombs, in festive sprays of light and ashes.
Traditionally, the purpose of fireworks at Chinese New Year is not only to welcome the future and prosperity of the coming year, but to scare away and rid the evil spirits of the past. As China’s political and cultural epicenter, Beijing has seen a vast increase of "White Ghosts" flourishing through its streets over recent years. This year's celebration successfully sent laowais running for cover amidst the explosive chaos. The message came across loud and clear to all the Canadians, Americans, Australians, Brits, and various Europeans out there (especially the French), running amuck in Beijing: BOO! Demon spirits, be gone!
Yet the White Ghosts weren't the only ones rattled by the holiday festivities this year. "It's like a war zone out there," said Li Zhang Meng, 82, who spent the two week period of the Spring Festival locked indoors, fearing for her life. "I also have Lulu to think about," Li said, hugging her miniature poodle. "Mmmmrrooo," Lulu whined meekly in agreement.
However, reports concluded that the annual number of people injured or killed by the festive activities were no higher than usual this year. So rest assured, there were no more than the usual hundreds of maimed, blinded, and deafened casualties of the New Year than usual. Not a single one.