Dutch Quirk #92: Be weirdly pyromaniacal about fireworks

HomeUltimate List of Dutch QuirksDutch Quirk #92: Be weirdly pyromaniacal 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, Dutchies have this weird 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 for ordinary Dutchies, who are allowed to light fireworks from December 31 to January 1 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.

Just another New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands, we guess. 🤷

But this is far from the case, at least when it comes to fireworks. Dutchies LOVE to make a bit of a commotion with loud and bright fireworks as if people don’t already know it’s New Year’s Eve and everyone is trying to show off their biggest, most extravagant fireworks in the neighbourhood. 🙄🎆

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 are going 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 aren’t for the faint of heart in the Netherlands — 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 second 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 2022 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Katrien Nivera 🇵🇭
Katrien Nivera 🇵🇭
Third culture kid Katrien is a Philippine native living in the Netherlands to finish her master's degree in political communication. You can usually find her trying to organize everything on Notion and the sticky notes app, otherwise, she’s nose-deep in a good book or obsessing over film soundtracks and video games.


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