Happy New Year! That’s the lunar new year, of course, and where better to usher in the Year of the Horse than Shanghai? There were fireworks and firecrackers from different parts of the city all evening on Friday, which came to a crescendo as midnight arrived.
Private individuals or storeholders lay out long strips of firecrackers on the road outside their premises, light the touchpaper and stand back. Once the smoke has cleared, all that’s left is the debris from the red paper that held the firecrackers. In places with lots of small stallholders, the streets are covered.
Legend has it that there’s a mythical beast called Nian who would come on the first day of the new year to eat crops, livestock and children. Fortunately, Nian can be frightened off by the colour red and firecrackers. Whether or not that’s in the mind of people as they set off the firecrackers, I don’t know.
It wasn’t just at midnight, or even at night time, that firecrackers were let off. I guess you shouldn’t take too many risks with mythical beasts, and it’s better for children to have to cover their ears than be whisked away and devoured, especially if you’re only allowed one child per family.