Holidays for fireworks (and generally blowing up stuff) from around the world

Date:July 4, 2007 / year-entry #241
Orig Link:
Comments:    74
Summary:Today is Independence Day in the United States, known informally as "The Fourth of July", thereby making it the only holiday◊ to be named after its own date. (The next closest candidate is New Year's Day, but nobody calls it "January 1st".) The original purpose of this Independence Day holiday have been lost to the...

Today is Independence Day in the United States, known informally as "The Fourth of July", thereby making it the only holiday◊ to be named after its own date. (The next closest candidate is New Year's Day, but nobody calls it "January 1st".)

The original purpose of this Independence Day holiday have been lost to the mists of time.° Nowadays, it's a day for a barbecue picnic and fireworks.

I remember asking a Swede when they celebrate their Independence Day. The response was "Independence? From whom?"

In Sweden, as it probably is in much of the world, the big holiday for setting off fireworks is New Year's Day. (In Asia, Lunar New Year takes precedence.) In England, Guy Fawkes is the traditional excuse for blowing up stuff. In many parts of the world, Christmas appears also to be a big day for fireworks, but for some reason that is not done in the United States.

What is the holiday for blowing up stuff in your country?

Nitpicker's corner

◊s/the only holiday/the only major U.S. holiday/

°I was joking about the original purpose of this Independence Day holiday being lost to the mists of time. Everybody knows that it's a commemoration of the invention of the hot dog.

Comments (74)
  1. lister says:

    In Canada we have two days for fireworks. The first is Victoria Day, generally the third Monday of the month which is a statutory holiday, or otherwise known as the May "two four."

    The second day is Canada Day (July 1st) which is Canada’s birthday.

    Depending on where you are in the country there may be other days where fireworks are used to celebrate something. In Toronto for instance we usually have a festival of fireworks (various countries "compete") at the end of June through the beginning of July.

    Like the US, we don’t do fireworks on Christmas. Seems like a rather odd thing to do.

  2. Bob Hostas says:

    Raymond, Raymond, Raymond… I hate to nitpick on this fine holiday but it’s actually a commemoration of the baking of the first American apple pie.

  3. In the spirit of nitpicking, I think Cinco de Mayo counts as a major US holiday. ::evil grin::

  4. Medinoc says:

    Well, in France it’s the fourteenth of July, which we usually call "quatorze juillet" (fourteenth of July).

    Beleived to commemorate a major event in the French Revolution where the Bastille, a prison that had became a symbol of political prisoners, fell (see Bastille Day). But Wikipedia says it actually commemorates an official celebration that happened the next year.

  5. richard says:

    Up north, we do not have Independence Day, we have Canada Day – the day we quietly came into being.

    We have fireworks on that day (in the evening -usually around 22:00). We also celebrate with fireworks on Victoria Day (first Monday on or before May 24 – except Quebec), St Jean-Baptiste Day (June 24 – Quebec only), New Years Day and any International Fireworks Competitions that might be going on (but they tend to be localized to the actual competition site).

  6. Bendik says:

    In Norway it’s may 17th, being our independence from the danes (or the swedes, depending mostly on your point of view). Although there’s generally not a lot of fireworks going off.

  7. MJP says:

    "Independence? From whom?"

    The CIA Factbook gained notoriety in the UK for asserting that it achieved independence in 1707. (The entry has since been rewritten.)

    It always struck me as bizarre having fireworks less than two weeks from midsummer’s day. On Bonfire (Guy Fawkes) Night, it’s dark by 5 o’clock and even young kids can stay up for it.

    Since 2000, fireworks have become popular (with some people) at midnight on New Year’s Eve in the UK.

  8. acc says:

    In Austria (as in the most of the European countries, as far as I know) the "holiday for blowing up stuff" (where a lot of people do that themselves) is definitely New Year’s Eve (German: Silvester), especially the last hours of it and the first hour of New Year’s Day. You should see how many private rocket launches are all over Vienna then.

    I heard once that in the neighbouring Hungary the fireworks were prohibited, if they are not for a New Year celebration (and the day of the State), and even then only the state is allowed to launch their rockets, but maybe somebody of the readers knows the truth.

  9. Bahbar says:

    @Larry Hamelin

    Cinco de Mayo

    Yes, but he was talking about major US holidays named after the date. That does not spell Fifth of May, right ? <ducks/>

    To get back to the French holiday, I thought they took over the Bastille prison because it had ammunition ? Not for the 7 prisoners, anyways.

  10. name not required says:

    These days any day is popular for blowing things up where I come from – Glasgow.

  11. mccoyn says:

    I’ve always wondered if Detroit/Windsor get double fireworks.  Once on Canada Day and once on America’s Independence Day.  It sounds like they would be in the same week.

    I did hear that Detroit did their fireworks on Wednesday of last week this year for some reason.  I guess they assumed everyone would be vacationing this week, or they wanted to beat Windsor.

  12. SJH says:

    In Ireland, Halloween is popular, particularly in urban areas, for fireworks. Likewise New Year’s, and in recent years, large scale fireworks displays have become commonplace around St. Patrick’s Day.

    In rural Ireland, there’s a tradition of lighting bonfires on June 23 (; in the south, anyway (and here in Cork, particularly). Up north, they do their bonfire-burnin’ on July 12.

    Lots of days, then, on which to indulge in a bit of pyromania.

  13. muczachan says:

    In Poland the fireworks are launched en masse on New Year’s Eve, like in most of Europe. The Independence Day is on November 11th and we do have another  national holiday commemorating a date. On May 3rd we celebrate adoption of the May 3rd Constitution named, of course, after the day it has been adopted on. Second modern constitution in the world, by the way (after the American one).

  14. Mal says:

    A (British) friend of mine living in Washington DC discovered that the police there aren’t too fond of fireworks on the 5th November and generally aren’t aware of Guy Fawkes or Bonfire Night.  

    Trying to explain the concept of burning the effigy of a terrorist on a big bonfire was somewhat of a challenge too, or so I’m told :)

  15. Frandsen says:

    New Year’s Eve in Denmark too. If you’re a teenager, New Year’s starts around November 1st and ends January 5th.

    The only holiday named after the date must be fjerde maj, May 4th. Most Danes know the words that were broadcast at 8.36 PM on that day in 1945: "This is London. This is London. At this moment it is reported by general Montgomery that the German troops in Holland, Northern Germany and Denmark have surrendered." This is celebrated by putting candle lights in the windows.

    Like the Swedes, we don’t have an independence day. <fun>But maybe some time in the future, the parts of Denmark called Skåne, Halland and Blekinge will.</fun>

  16. Chris says:

    Well, I’m from the U.S., but here in Utah the other big holiday for blowing stuff up is Pioneer Day (July 24), commemorating the first arrival of Mormon Pioneers in the Salt Lake valley.

  17. CK says:

    In Argentina, we usually get fireworks around midnight on Christmas Eve and New Year.

    Our independence day is July 9th, the day of our declaration of independence. We usually refer to it by date; many people usually forget exactly what’s celebrated there, it’s just another holiday. We also commemorate the first independent government (May 25th, also referred to by date), which took place six years earlier when the Spanish king was captured and we were a virtually headless colony.

  18. Skrud says:

    While this isn’t a country-wide thing, my city, Montreal, hosts an annual Fireworks competition where every country is welcome to come by and blow stuff up in their own unique ways. This goes on all through the summer.

    Why settle for one countries fireworks rituals when you can have them all?

  19. Gavin Greig says:

    Sorry to nitpick:

    Guy Fawkes isn’t just an English thing. The King who was nearly blown up by Mr. Fawkes was King James VI of Scots, and he was King of Scots for 36 years before he also became King James I of England and Ireland.

  20. Guido says:

    Here in Switzerland, we more or less arbitrarily defined that our constitution was formed the 1st of August. It’s somewhat strange though, since the paper everybody talks about there was dated "beginning of August, 1291", and as a matter of fact, what was there 1291 was nowhere near today’s Switzerland (with only roughly half the land mass and all). Still, it’s what we celebrate, and that’s our excuse for blowing stuff up :)

    Of course, it’s a nation-wide holiday too. And we don’t have Fireworks around Christmas either.

  21. Mack says:

    re: Detroit / Windsor

    There’s a (major) combined fireworks display, done from barges on the Detroit River. It’s part of a joint ‘freedom festival’ and I think it always precedes both Canada Day and Independence Day. I’m sure there are videos on YouTube.

  22. Messiant R says:

    In Belgium the big day for that is New Year’s Eve, which we in fact call Old Year’s Eve .. go figure

    Anyway, last time it seems to have been an exception to that rule however, the weather was too bad and the fireworks got postponed .. to the 29th of June

    Enjoy the holiday

  23. Prasanna says:

    In India, it is Diwali.

  24. Thomas says:

    In Australia there are two: New Year’s Eve (conveniently located in summer), and Australia Day (Jan 26).

    Snippets of film of the fireworks on Sydney Harbour usually turns up in US television news on New Year’s Eve, so many of y’all will have seen them.

  25. Ofer says:

    Israeli independence day usually includes fireworks, but the real fire-centric holiday is LAG BA’OMER: lighting bonfires to celebrate the Hebrew rebellion against Roman regime 2000 years ago.

  26. Igor D says:

    I’m from Croatia and my first reaction was: we had Independence Day ten days ago!

    But I wasn’t sure so I checked at Wikipedia. This page < > states that Croatia achieved independence on May 21, 879. Wow. But I don’t think we celebrate that day. So I had to look elsewhere: < >

    Looks like we have Independence day on October 8, but Statehood Day is on June 25 and Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day is on August 5. That’s why we have journalists crawling cities on those days asking people if they knew what is celebrated and people usually shrug their shoulders and smile and say something funny and then we watch it in the evening on tv.

    All these holidays are properly celebrated with fireworks ;)

  27. Marcos says:

    Independence Day in Brazil is a day for parades, not fireworks. New Year’s Eve is a good night for fireworks, but nothing beats World Cup finals.

  28. A Catalan in Thailand says:

    In Catalonia it’s on June 23: "Revetlla de Sant Joan" (Saint John’s Eve). We have fireworks and bonfires. Sadly the latter are less usual every year due to safety restrictions  :-(

    @SJH: Nice to read that you have the same tradition in Ireland.

  29. Ben says:

    People also like to do this kind of thing at Easter in Australia – lighting a big bonfire and setting off some crackers (cracker night!).

    I have great memories of doing this with my old man and my uncle on the family farm. A great way to warm up a cold Glen Innes night…

  30. KJK::Hyperion says:

    In Italy, fireworks are set off at New Year’s Eve on a national scale, and on a city by city basis on the day of the city’s saint (only for big enough cities though). New Year’s Eve is a pretty dangerous night to stay out around midnight, especially in Neapolis, undisputed Italian capital of the firework.

    Also, regarding holidays named after their day, I beg to differ: in Italy (and I believe somewhere else too) "Labor Day" is called "May 1st", and our independence day (April 25th) is named after its day as well.

    April 25th isn’t a very holiday-holiday, though, it’s usually a pretty serious affair with military parades and official figures saluting flags and memorials and it’s around the time when all talk shows seem to feel the need for one "historical revisionism night" or two.

  31. Centaur says:

    In Russia, major blowups are organized on May 9, commemorating the victory in the Great Patriotic War (which is the Russian term for World War 2; I don’t want to argue over its end date and who the winners were).

    Also, many people blow up things around the New Year (starting December 31 evening and going until they run out of fireworks, which may be January 3, 4, or maybe even 7).

  32. LittleDevil says:

    Actually, in Israel, we don’t have to wait for our Independence Day to blow things up…. We have neighbors doing that for us on a daily basis… ;)

  33. Marcus says:

    Actually, in Sweden, we do have an independence day. 6th of June. We celebrate independence from the danes, I think. Although no one really cares. The government is trying pretty hard to make it a big thing, though. Just two or three years back it became a national holiday.

    I can’t remember what I did this year. Watched the soccer game between Sweden and Denmark where a danish supporter ran onto the field and smacked the judge, causing Denmark to lose the game, possibly.

  34. paa says:

    In Greece fireworks traditionally are set off on Easter. For a less traditional, albeit quite embarrassing, usage check the news.

  35. Kjartan Þór says:

    I’m from Iceland, we use New Years Eve as an excuse for shooting up fireworks and the thirteenth (last) day of christmas 6th jan. and as in Denmark the teenagers (and quite a bit of grown-ups as well) start New Years Eve early and finish late, although it is not permitted to start the sale of fireworks here untill the second day of christmas (26th dec.) and sales are not allowed after 6th. jan.

    As for our national holliday it is 17th of June and is always know by it’s name "sautjándi júní" and is the birthday of the man who lead the independence movement in Iceland.

  36. Henrik says:

    In Sweden we usually blow things up last day of April (valborgsmässoafton) when we also burn big fires (and sometimes accidentally houses).

    Ironically the next day (first of may) is a holiday. Formally (and informally) known as "första maj" (first of may).

  37. Jussi Bergström says:

    Here in Finland, we only shoot fireworks on the New Year’s Eve/Day (happens some hours before and after midnight).

    Our independence day (6th of December) is more of a serious holiday, we just light up candles and watch the presidential gala <;.

  38. Archangel says:

    In New Zealand we blow stuff up mostly on Guy Fawkes, which is of course commemorating a failed attempt to blow up the British Houses of Parliament. Must be one of the least politically correct holidays around really – our government don’t like it much, judging from the way they make half the currently legal fireworks illegal each time.

    New Year’s Eve is pretty popular for fireworks too.

  39. squidbot says:

    When I lived in British Columbia, the only time it was legal to sell and light fireworks was around Halloween as well. People would often buy them and stockpile for Canada day.

  40. Brent says:

    Australia has one event that Thomas forgot: Queen’s Birthday long weekend. It’s the only time of year where it’s legal for people living in the ACT to buy fireworks and set them off.

    I think NT has a similar thing too…

  41. Dlfare says:

    In my country (Ecuador) we usually have fireworks for each of the mayor cities’ foundation days, so we usually are well supplied of firework all year long. For smaller cities we have fireworks castles and people running around with mobile fireworks rotating like crazy trying to crash people, we call them Vacas Locas (Crazy Cows), Not very safe but very fun,

  42. AI says:

    What’s with the non-standard footnotes? It broke my English parser.

  43. DM says:

    For those of us in Quebec, Canada, June 24 is "the" big occasion to blow things up in about every city in the province.

    Except for some big cities, we don’t blow up stuff much on Victoria Day or Canada Day, but we do take the day off like in the rest of the country :-)

    Happy Fourth of July Raymond !!!


  44. Toukarin says:

    For Singapore, they blow up stuffs on most occasions due to its multi-cultural origins.

    In order: New Year’s Day, Lunar New Year, National Day, Christmas Eve (sometimes), New Year’s Eve.

    Plus fireworks for any other miscellaneous events that promote the arts (or an event the government approves of), usually to create media attention.

  45. dsn says:

    In at least Montreal (don’t know about the rest of Quebec), Canada Day is celebrated as moving day.  Most leases end July 01, so most people end up spending the holiday moving.  

    Also, I’d like to second LittleDevil’s comment.  During a three week trip in Isreal, I saw one person’s bag get blown up by the police, and another shaken to pieces by a cool  robot.  It was actually kinda fun.

  46. steveg says:

    Is it just me or does this sound like perfect material for Mythbusters?

  47. JamesW says:

    I see that Diwali has been mentioned. Like bonfire night in the UK, Diwali is an excuse to be letting off fireworks long before the actual date. The amount of explosions during the night gradually increases as the day approaches. I flew into Hyderabad one Diwali night. It was like a warzone with fireworks exploding level with the plane. The people living under the flightpath weren’t going to let a few jets get in the way of their celebrations!

  48. Jamie says:

    In addition to Archangel’s notes on fireworks in New Zealand:

    We have heavy limitations on the sale of fireworks:

    * You must be at least 18 to buy them.

    * You may only buy them between 27 October and 5 November.

    * Rocket-type fireworks are banned from retail sale, after several eye losses from people firing at each other.

    * Dynamite-style "banger" fireworks are banned, due to animal abuses.

    Despite these restrictions, fireworks are abused again and again, and talks of a complete ban are coming closer to fruition.

  49. More about Israel:

    The day before Independence Day is Memorial Day (‘Yom Hazikaron"):

    When Memorial Day ends Independence Day begins. This is

    in order to remember that we are independent thanks to the "veterans and fallen military personnel of the Israel Defense Forces" (quote from Wikipedia).

    I thought you may be interested to know.

  50. Medinoc says:

    Bahbar : There were not many prisoners at that time, but there HAD been so many that the Bastille had become a symbol of the oppression.

    AND it had guns. Lots of guns.

    In France, there MIGHT be some fireworks on New Year’s Eve, but most of it is reserved for the fourteenth of July, which is the French National Holiday.

  51. mp says:

    To be clear, the Asia note does not include India. India does have a festival called as the celebration of lights which usually sees the most amount of private gatherings setting off fireworks. It is not related to the Lunar New Year.

  52. Hybor says:

    In Valencia (Spain) they have the Fallas on Saint Joseph’s Day (19 March). They launch fireworks, throw firecrackers, and burn big cardboard statues (called Ninots) which represent current facts and people.

    Apart from that big firework festival, in Spain almost every town’s patron saint holiday includes fireworks as part of its activities.

  53. pplu says:

    In Catalonia we celebrate San Juan (first day of the summer) with firecrackers.

  54. Jim says:

    Don’t want to be lumped in with the nitpickers but surely July 4th is a celebration of the day that Jeff Goldblum saved the world from alien invasion?

    Also in Britain (well England at least) pretty much the only time that fireworks can be legally bought in shops by normal people is in the run up to Guy Fawkes night. Any fireworks let off at other times of the year (other than large organised displays) have probably been stored in a tin for months.

    Do other countries have such strict laws banning the year-round sale of fireworks, or is it just the UK that’s paranoid that we’ll be attacked by firework wielding terrorists?

  55. Michael says:

    In Switzerland we celebrate the founding of our country (back in 1291, at least to some documents) annualy on August 1st. Actually, since we don’t know the day exactly and historic documents just mention the beginning of August, that day was just decided upon.

    On August 1st, legend goes, the holy Oath was taken between the leaders of several Kantonen (equal to states of the US) to form an allegiance against the evil north (germans) who at that time were the "rightful" owners of most parts of switzerland.

    More information on

  56. Michael says:

    and in response to Jim:

    In Switzerland we have the same thing. Save for August 1st, fireworks are generally not sold by stores and everyone buys more than they fire off just to save some for later

  57. peterchen says:

    in my town, it seems to be "summer, all of it".

  58. Paul says:

    Although Guy Fawkes day is November 5th in England, fireworks atually seem to go on sale in the shops some time in late September.  Kids buy them and set them off from then until about Christmas.  More so after November 5th when the remaining fireworks in the shops are sold at reduced prices.

    So basically we have fireworks in the air in England for about 3 months of the year.

  59. ANY day is a good day to blow things up!

  60. Nish says:

    Damn – 2 others have already mentioned India and Diwali.

    Well, I’d like to add that in Kerala (the southern most state in India), we have a festival called Vishu when we have fireworks too (similar to Diwali).

  61. Jonathan Wilson says:

    Here in Western Australia, the main day for setting off fireworks is Australia Day. Unlike in the east, we don’t have much in the way of New Years Eve fireworks generally (certainly nowhere near as big as the Australia Day Skyshow)

  62. Ollie says:


    Since when has Guy Fawkes been 2 weeks after mid summers day, one is in June and the other is in October…

  63. Fujin says:

    In Lebanon and Occupied Palestianian Territories, we get fireworks that blow up buildings and go through bridges. ;)

    Now, that could definately put an eye out :P

    To bad we dont have any festive holidays to shoot fireworks on. Allthough; they used to shoot klashnikovs in the air for weddings!!

  64. AC says:


    "Since when has Guy Fawkes been 2 weeks after mid summers day, one is in June and the other is in October…"

    You have to separate the ideas in his sentence:

    "It always struck me as bizarre having fireworks less than two weeks from midsummer’s day. On Bonfire (Guy Fawkes) Night, it’s dark by 5 o’clock and even young kids can stay up for it."

    In other words: "It seems dumb to have fireworks when there’s the most daylight. An example being Guy Fawkes Night, when it’s dark early, and enjoyable by those who are in bed early."

  65. boxmonkey says:

    What about Juneteenth? I guess maybe that’s not a national holiday…

  66. Vendetta says:

    Some background on the origin of Guy Fawkes night might be helpful for non-British readers. It commemorates the successful destruction of Parliament by the masked terrorist V.

  67. Ry Jones says:

    Joe and I celebrate by blowing stuff up in April. lots of pictures and video.

  68. tekumse says:

    Bulgarians tend to blow stuff up on New Year’s.  Still the best fireworks I’ve seen were on the Navy’s day which is around Aug 14, but there were no private celebrations.  Should be noted that soccer games are often the scene of smoke bombs, torches and traditional white bronze+red lead homemade explosives.  Major away wins(like World Cup) have also been known to celebrated with blowing stuff up.

  69. Mihai says:

    In Romania this would be December 1 and New Year Eve.

    But this is the official stuff. Unofficial occasions might include beer festivals, sporting events, turning 18, your friend turning 18, any birthday, being drunk :-)

  70. Dewi Morgan says:

    Here in the UK we are fortunate enough to be blessed with terrorist doctors so incredibly talented in chemistry that they can forego the oxidator in their explosive vehicles. And people who think that hydrogen peroxide makes good bombs. This level of British nonce-like incompetence with explosions goes back all the way to the gunpowder plot and before.

    So, we may have very small, incompetent explosions at any time.

    But no longer any smoke to accompany them, since that has fortunately been forbidden since July 1st.

    However, we are guaranteed at least one huge explosion some time soon, when the SS Richard Montgomery finally goes up ( ), having being allowed by successive governments to remain poised to threaten the nation like the axe of Damocles since the war.

  71. poochner says:

    In the US, we do get fireworks on Halloween and New Year’s Eve, just not as much as on July 4.  I recall some English visitors attending an outdoor concert for Independence Day, and being quite puzzled that the band was playing the 1812 Overture.  "Why?!" they asked.  "Cannons!"

  72. Neil says:

    Speaking of holidays named after dates, the UK May Day is usually not actually "celebrated" on May 1st unless it happens to fall on a Monday.

  73. American Christmas traditions are rooted in the culture of the northeast (few places in the world have much chance of a white Christmas other than us) but because of this the traditions in the US are generally based around indoor, cold weather activities.  Fireworks, while feasible, in the northeast in December would not get many people standing around outside to watch them.  Hot apple cider, fruit cake and a fire in the fireplace help to make that particular season bright.

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