Dutch Donderdag – New Year’s Eve (aka Shock & Awe)

What can I say about New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam? “Oh. My. God” springs to mind. Never in my life have I experienced anything like it. The volume of fireworks I saw & heard that day/night/day was more than I have experienced in my entire.

I woke up at around 12 noon (yes, yes I know that’s bad but hey… I’m unemployed) on New Year’s Eve. The fireworks had already started! And we’re not talking about the occasional bang… we’re talking explosions every minute. All day.

It appears, in Holland, that the 31st of December sees a total cessation of all health & safety rules. The Dutch buy mountains of fireworks for the big night… & then spend the day, leading up to the strike of twelve, trying to blow up the city. It was like being in a war zone under constant heavy artillery. Thankfully without the loss of life but that in itself is a miracle. People in the street would set off rows of firecrackers or rockets as other members of the general public wander by, seemingly unperturbed by the fact that they could lose an eye, or limb.

Finally after 12 hours of this aural bombardment the New Year countdown began. At the stroke of midnight the sky was lit up by a display of incendiary devices that George Bush would have been proud of. “Shock & Awe” had begun… & continued… & carried on… & on& on… It was still going strong when Jools Holland wished all those watching his Hootenanny “Happy New Year” (an hour later).

My video of the night’s proceedings

During all this celebratory “fun” my boyfriend & I stayed indoors. We had intended to go out on the bridge & watch the fireworks on the Neuwe Markt. But quite frankly I feared for my life (I’m British & this level of lax health & safety scared me). So we watched the proceedings leaning out of our window. However, even indoors we weren’t entirely safe & we nearly ended up with a couple of fireworks coming into our flat thanks to some tit with a rocket launcher below.

We weren’t alone in the flat. We have three cats & for Zeus, our 7½ month old, this was his first time. Their reactions go to show you can never truly predict how your cats will behave. The two eldest, who are usually scared by fireworks, were completely non-fussed by the experience & the eldest seemed totally bored by the whole proceedings, as he snoozed away sprawled on the arm of the sofa. Zeus, on the other hand, had been watching the occasional firework display with great interest. But at midnight’s crescendo he lost his nerve & went & hid behind a curtain. We finally managed to coax him out as things eased off, but another loud band unnerved him & he sort safety with his mum (me!). I spent the next hour with our brave Little Monster squished between the arm of the sofa & my leg, hugging me.

I finally got to bed shortly after 3am… the occasional explosion still ringing out through the night. But by then I was too exhausted, drunk & deaf to care.

I think next New Year’s we’ll go & find a nice little deserted island, in the middle of nowhere, to see 2013 in on.


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