It’s widely known that the Chinese invented fireworks about 2000 years ago. But the big secret (at least it was to me) is that they also really know how to use them!
During the Chinese New Year, fireworks are the rage. There are practically no limits on them. Anybody (young or old, veteran or novice, lefty or righty, etc…) can shoot off anything (big ones, small ones, thunderous ones, black cats, sparklers, etc…) anywhere (on the roof, on the street, in the courtyard, etc…) at anytime (5 am, noon, 11 pm, etc…). There are no city planned events, no schedules, no special zones. Shooting fireworks during Chinese New Year is one of the most open, democratic experiences in China…much more so than in the US.
Chinese New Years Eve is definitely the biggest fireworks event of the year. While you can hear pops echo through the neighborhoods all day, the fun really starts around dusk. It then builds and builds into a climax of light and sound at around midnight and slowly dissipates into the early morning. The entire “show” can go for 5-6 hours, and it leaves quite a cloud of smoke. The trash gets left behind and cleaned up by special workers hired just for that task.
Unfortunately, this laissez-faire attitude toward fireworks only lasts for the Chinese New Year holiday. After that, it becomes illegal to possess or light them. Bummer… But it was sweet while it lasted.