Dutch Quirk #92: Be weird pyromaniacs about fireworks

HomeUltimate List of Dutch QuirksDutch Quirk #92: Be weird pyromaniacs about fireworks

Ah yes, December — a month of cold weather, fun, family holidays, and fire hazards? Seems a little out of character for this festive month.

Indeed, the Dutch have a strange affinity with fire and setting things on fire, but no one is sure why. And with that, fireworks might be the most dangerous hobby the Dutch have. 🔥

What is it?

For most of the year, lighting fireworks is limited to professionals, but there is an exception: from December 31 to January 1, ordinary Dutchies are allowed to light fireworks for New Year’s Eve.

Now, this would seem like a reasonable time and manner to welcome the New Year, but the Netherlands has had a history of extreme firework usage — to the point where several large municipalities have banned them altogether. ⛔

READ MORE | New Year’s Eve fireworks in the Netherlands: which city is doing what?

Why do they do it?

No one is really sure where this interesting (and very dangerous) habit comes from. If you’re familiar with Dutch stereotypes, you might know Dutchies are often characterised as mellow, quiet people who love to doe normaal.

Dutchies get so extreme that YouTube puts an age restriction on their fireworks videos (but we recommend you check it out!). 🤷

But this is far from the case, at least when it comes to fireworks.

Dutchies LOVE to make a commotion with loud and bright fireworks (as if people don’t already know it’s New Year’s Eve), and everyone tries to show off their biggest, most extravagant fireworks. 🙄🎆

Why is it quirky?

Another classic Dutch stereotype is being a “stickler for the rules”, but that is far from the reality — some €15 million in fire damages and 5,000 kilos of illegal fireworks seized prove that the Dutch go above and beyond to make their celebrations as fire-filled as possible.

Fireworks are banned for 364 days of the year, so everyone in the Netherlands makes it a point to buy and light every single firework they can in the short period it’s legal. But maybe that’s a bit counterintuitive? 🤔

Should you join in?

Well, that depends. Fireworks in the Netherlands aren’t for the faint of heart — if you’re easily spooked by loud noises and fire, it’s probably best to stay inside and keep the windows shut.

Unfortunately, for all you little pyromaniacs out there, past incidences have gotten so bad that the local municipalities have announced a formal ban on fireworks for the third year in a row. Yikes.

Otherwise, we’d encourage everyone to take part in this festive Dutch tradition very safely and within Dutch rules and regulations for fireworks. But until then, you’ll have to find another way to celebrate the New Year.

Maybe you can watch an action film or light some candles instead? 🤷

What do you think of this Dutch quirk? Have you experienced it? Tell us in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in December 2021, and was fully updated in December 2023 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Katrien Nivera 🇵🇭
Katrien Nivera 🇵🇭
Third culture kid Katrien has been working as a writer and editor at DutchReview for over two years, originally moving to the Netherlands as a tween. Equipped with a Bachelor’s in communication and media and a Master’s in political communication, she’s here to stay for her passion for writing, whether it’s current Dutch affairs, the energy market, or universities. Just like the Dutch, Katrien lives by her agenda and enjoys the occasional frietje met mayo — she just wishes she could grow tall, too.


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