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The Silvester, or Repelling Napoleon

Explosions ring in my ears. Flashes of light blind me. The reek of gunpowder and cordite fills my nose and lungs. Empty shells litter the ground. I dodge a rocket that whizzes past. A battlefield? No, it's New Year in Munich.
We live around the corner from the famous Friedensengel, an exquisite gold-leaf statue of the goddess Europa, which commemorates peace after the Franco-Prussian War in 1871. Every Silvester (New Year’s Eve), the police close the plaza around the monument, as well as the broad boulevard that leads up to it. Müncheners use the space to recreate the battle against Napoleon III with rockets, fireworks, sparklers, and other WMDs.
That is, they get drunk¸ stick rockets in champagne bottles, and light the fuse with their cigarettes. Now, living in the European Union, I am surprised that the nanny-state hasn’t stepped into protect these tipsy arsonists from themselves.

Is this what the 4th of July was like before private fireworks were banned in most American states and municipalities?

I feel a little like Francis Scott Key, composing a hymn about the rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air. Or Wilfred Owen contemplating death on the Somme.
Oh, by the way. Happy New Year!

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