Not Quite Alone in a Crowd

P1050145Happy New Year, and an on-going Merry Christmas to everyone!  In Prague, I brought in the New Year praying for peace with the Taize movement.  It seemed the happiest and most constructive option by which to celebrate, and the hundreds of people around me probably would have agreed.  That stated, after the service was over, I went to wish my German Riesling pusher a good Nový Rok, and enjoy a quality glass.

Twelve-o-two and fireworks abounded as I exited the church. In the large park across the street, people wielded roman candles heroically, shooting green and red flares through trees.  Other revelers had brought more ambitious gear: Rockets accelerated past windows and a medieval tower and boomed in the orange, city-night sky.  Prague is a city to live in, not a museum, and the simple insouciance of the festivities made the first moments of 2015 very human and gentle, despite the loud cracks.

Which brings me to this photo.  The wine shop rests on a busy street.  But the shop had already closed, so I strolled down an intersecting lane that is always still; it gives the pedestrian a sweet solitude.  In the half-melted snow, I came across a man and a boy celebrating:  The boy moves without sound to the man, the cellophane crinkles as the man extracts a bulbous rocket with its long wooden stick.  The boy glides to an empty sparkling wine bottle, balances the rocket in it, lights it.  A “shsh” of sparks grows to a “Shush!” as the rocket launches, hissing above 19th-century apartments before exploding with more bang than sparks.  The two look at each other, and the man extracts another rocket from the cellophane…

So like these two, for you all, I wish you some quiet moments, some intimate moments with those for whom you care, some moments of wonder.  Again, Happy 2015.

3 thoughts on “Not Quite Alone in a Crowd

  1. Hi Justin!
    After reading your post, I wondered about the different traditions that each country does to celebrate the same event. Usually on New Years Eve, my mom, siblings and I play monopoly. As you can imagine, the game turns into a full out competition between all of us, to see who will have the bragging rights for the new year. When it is time, just before 12:00, we turn on the tv to watch the ball drop in New York. After this, we all wish each other a Happy New Year and eventually get some sleep before we have to wake up in the morning.

    Is the New Years celebration in the Czech Republic that different compared to the U.S? What are the differences and similarities?

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    • Hello Sidney W,
      Sorry for the delayed response.
      Truth be told, there are only a few New Year’s habits I’ve seen.
      The most exciting one is fireworks, which I wrote about in the post. It really is a cacophony in downtown Prague at midnight on New Year’s. They even shoot off rocks in Old Town Square, a historical, protected site!

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    • Hello, Sidney W.
      I haven’t seen too many New Years traditions here in the CZ, not much beyond the fireworks anyway. The snaps and booms make quite a din of Prague at midnight. People even shoot off firework rockets in Old-Town Square, an historical, protected site!
      There might be some songs that are sung but I haven’t heard them.
      Otherwise, people tend to have a few drinks and go out to a party.
      (One nice thing is that the legal alcohol limit for drivers is 0.0, as in nothing. This means most people don’t have a habit of driving drunk and they usually have a designated driver. It makes being out at night safer.

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