5th November

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason, and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder treason,
Should ever be forgot !

Remember the V for Vendetta film a few years back? I really liked the film, Natalie Portman, the history, the dramatic 1812 overture,...

Of course, the film was based on the events of the 5th November, 1605, when Guy Fawkes was captured during his attempt to blow up the House of Lords, with gunpowder set underneath the building. New Zealand celebrates Guy Fawkes night with lots of fireworks all over the country. I remember as a young girl going to New Brighton beach to watch the works organised by the City Council, and also a neighbour one where a group of families gathered together for a festive dinner and colourful lights to go off, much to the delight of the neighbourhood kids. Leading up to the Guy Fawkes day is the only small window of time in which we can buy fireworks in NZ. There's a special corner for them where everyone just goes for. It's kind of crazy. You have be of age, of course. Once bought, though, there is no restriction on when we can use them.

This year in France, I wondered about the French law regarding the fireworks. Obviously they don't celebrate Guy Fawkes like most of the British Commonwealth countries. I remember setting off fireworks in the backyard of a family friend's house in Rouen on Christmas day six years ago. I asked a French friend but he had no idea. Maybe they are not as into buying them here in France as in NZ? I did a bit of research, and I think it's pretty easy to get by. If you want to set them off in a public place you need the permission of la Mairie. Otherwise, if it's in a private residence, no permission is needed. According to Wikipedia, there doesn't seem to be as wide a choice of the works here in France as in NZ.


In France, fireworks are legislated into four different classes, defined by total weight of explosive material. These are: (K1) small firecrackers under 3g and Roman candles under 10g which can be sold to minors over the age of 12; (K2) firecrackers and candles under 100g which can be sold to anyone over the age of majority, as can (K3) bombs and scenic fireworks with under 500g of explosive; (K4) all other fireworks or explosives launched by mortar which are only sold to licensed professionals. Fireworks usage of any class require the authorization of the town hall of the local community, as well as the notification of the fire brigade.

New Zealand
Fireworks in New Zealand are available from the 2nd to the 5th November, around Guy Fawkes Night, and may be purchased only by those 18 years of age and older (up from 14 years pre-2007). Despite the restriction on when fireworks may be sold, there is no restriction regarding when fireworks may be used. The types of fireworks available to the public are multi-shot "cakes", Roman candles, single shot shooters, ground and wall spinners, fountains, cones, sparklers, and various novelties, such as smoke bombs and Pharaoh's serpents. 

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