And it was only the 28th December!! Something felt wrong about the sight of so many trees discarded and there was a part of me saddened by the discovery of this local custom. Back in the UK, trees are kept in the home until Twelfth Night (6 January), the day that marks the visit of the wise men to the stable in Bethlehem. When I was growing up, we went one step further and kept our tree decorated and lit for a further 24 hours as we celebrated the Egyptian Coptic christmas on January 7th. It was an affront to all my festive sensibilities to see the rejected pine in our back yard so soon.
There was another surprise when I saw that the pop-up christmas tree sellers that were dotted around our neighbourhood had been transformed into pop-up firework stalls. The signs were everywhere and people were lining up to buy all manner of explosives. I did try to buy fireworks back in November for Guy Fawkes night but I was told that in Denmark the sale of fireworks is only legal during December and so my search was fruitless. Over the last week, however, the city has turned into a hive of frenzied firework sales. Bike shops become firework shops, supermarkets set up firework stalls....they know no limits.
Everybody warned me that on New Year's Eve the sky would be lit up for hours but nothing prepared me for what I witnessed last night. We were lucky enough to be invited to two parties; one in Frederiksberg which started in the late afternoon and where we were not alone setting off an early evening pyrotechnic display - already there were gardens full of festive explosions. By the time we got to Hellerup at 8 pm for the second gathering, the pace was hotting up. While the roads were empty, we cycled along the bike lanes dodging the fireworks going off (literally) in our tracks. We wondered if we were being foolhardy as there was no-one else around save for kids and explosives!!
By the time midnight rolled around, we were in what I imagine a war zone might sound and look like. (Although, only a friendly war between neighbours vying for pyrotechnic supremacy!) The sky over the city was indeed on fire with the sound of cracking rockets and the continuing bursts of bright and colourful shooting stars. We chorussed our oohs and aahhs and chuckled into our glasses of fizz as some of the older boys called out 'beat that' to whoever might be listening(!).
When did it all stop? I have no idea. We wrapped our sleeping children into snowsuits, scarves and blankets and tucked them up in the bike. Cycled home through the streets of Copenhagen at about 2 am and still there were explosions around us. We pedalled through a carpet of empty firework batteries, the trail of debris from hours of celebrating...
I'm not sure whether it was 2011 going out or 2012 coming in but there were bangs aplenty. Happy New Year to all!!