Happy Year of the Dragon!

by Hanna

(Fireworks as seen from our balcony in Tübingen.)

On my way to Germany in December, I flew through Shanghai, and a Chinese woman about my age sat next to me on the first leg of the journey from Tokyo. We found we had a lot of things in common. She has lived in Japan now a little longer than I have, she is a student in Tokyo like myself, and we were both on our way to spend the holidays with our families.

A more random commonality she and I shared was the cultural heritage of setting off fireworks at New Year’s. I remember the first night of a trip I once took to Shanghai years ago was the last night of the lunar Chinese New Year celebrations, and private citizens were setting off fireworks in the streets as I watched from our high rise hotel window. The same, my seat mate said, happens in China on the western calendrical New Year. And so, said I, at New Year’s in Germany, and she looked at me surprised.

So, here is a photo of some private fireworks I saw at midnight on January 1, 2012 from our balcony, which overlooks part of Tübingen, Germany. If it hadn’t been for the vigorously chiming bells throughout the city or the colorful stars bursting in the sky, the incessant explosions, shouts, and billowing gunpowder smoke throughout the city might have lead one to believe there were a war underway. Perhaps for the people setting of the fireworks, it was a moment of cathartic ecstasy. But I was so tired from staying up past midnight that I somehow fell asleep despite the ongoing blasts, hearing sirens through the haze of my encroaching dreams.

I wish you all a happy 2012!