While German cities are usually a by-word for orderliness, that all changes on New Year’s Eve when they are seized by raucous celebrations that would shock many outsiders.
Rather than the official displays seen in the UK and elsewhere, in Germany revellers take over entire city centres, setting off their own fireworks in the streets and from rooftops and balconies.
For those trying to get home from parties, venturing into the streets can mean running the gauntlet of fireworks launched into oncoming traffic, and every year there are a number of injuries.
But public opinion is turning against the anarchic tradition, according to a new poll by the Civey Institute, which found that 59.6 per cent of Germans now favour a ban in major city centres.
That compares to 47 per cent in a similar poll a year ago, and 37 per cent in 2014.
The latest findings come amid concerns over air pollution caused by the fireworks. A recent study by a German government agency found that levels of fine dust particles in the air rise to over twenty times the EU safe limit in major German cities in the immediate aftermath of New Year’s Eve.
Some German cities, including Hannover and Dortmund, already ban fireworks on New Year’s Eve, while there has been a growing debate in Berlin over the issue.
The German capital is particularly notorious for the wildness of its New Year celebrations, and in recent years revellers have targetted fireworks at firefighters and paramedics as they try to respond to emergencies.
“Berlin is extreme at New Year’s Eve and in recent years it has been getting worse,” Jörg Stroedter, a local politician from the centre-Left Social Democrats (SPD) told Spiegel magazine. “People just do not take account of others. The emergency services come to help, have the hardest job ever on New Year’s Eve, and then get shot at. It cannot go on like this.
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