Today the shops started selling fireworks here in Germany, they're on sale from December 29th until New Year's Eve. The only time you can let off fireworks without a licence in Germany is on New Year's Eve and boy do the Germans make the most of it!
We bought our fireworks earlier today from a DIY shop, and the way people were grabbing armfuls I don't think their stock was going to last long - a good job then that ALL the supermarkets are advertising their fireworks, as are the few department stores that exist here in Germany and probably the chemists and any other shop too...
You almost don't need to buy any fireworks (except that our children wouldn't let us get away with such miserly behaviour and I don't think Simon would pass on the opportunity to play with rockets either) our house is pretty much at the top of a hill, looking down over Kettwig, consequently we get a great, almost 360 degree view of all fireworks being let off in our vicinity on New Year's Eve. Last year the corner house nearby had only been recently refurbished and re-occupied so the owners seemed to celebrate with a firework display that went on and on and on - maybe 20 minutes of whizzing, banging and flashing, it was very generous of them, and I'm kind of hoping for the same again this year!
The first year we were here we had no idea of the extent of the displays (and I hasten to add, these aren't formal, buy a ticket displays, these are neighbours and relatives getting together to let off their fireworks after an evening spent drinking beer and eating pretzels - A&E must be very busy) and even after watching the midnight displays we still had no real idea. It was only when I went for a run first thing the following morning (9am still counts as first thing on New Year's day doesn't it?) with my brother and his wife and we saw the firework debris on the roads throughout Kettwig that we realized just how many fireworks had been set off. Some of the roads were an inch deep in firework detritus and along the river there were distcarded rocket packagings and bottles, it was all pretty unsightly, BUT, the Germans know that this happens every year and so are geared up to deal with it and by the end of New Year's Day normality was resumed, clean streets.
* Guy Fawkes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Fawkes