Monday 13 January 2014

Welcoming the New Year, French Style.

                                            image: A car burns after being torched during New Year celebrations in Strasbourg's district of Neuhof, France, Jan. 1, 2013.

There is an annual New Year tradition in France of 'torching' cars.

This year 1,067 cars were set alight in this bizarre celebration. A method of welcoming-in the New Year, that would never have crossed my mind..

Even more bizarre, perhaps, is the anticipation by the French population of each New Year's burnings tally. Almost like awaiting a national election result, the revelation of the number of annual 'torchings' is of nation-wide fascination, and the figures eagerly awaited (on Jan 2nd).

The tradition is, as one might expect, mostly practised in the poorer, immigrant-and-unemployment-heavy, areas of bigger city outskirts, and is done as a mixture of police provocation, anger, and frustration. However, the 'law-abiding' section of French society simply sees it as 'biting the hand that feeds them'.

Personally I couldn't care less what they do (although I do find it rather puerile), as long as they target their own bloody cars, and don't come looking for mine!


  1. Wow that sounds like something crazy Americans would do!

    1. These are mostly crazy Algerians (I presume).

  2. Puerile indeed Cro - no good for the environment and who cleans up the mess?

  3. This reminds me a bit of the North East in the 1970s. New Year celebrations were pretty new to me when I moved up there in the early 1970s as it was much more of a northern thing than a southern. On New Years Day I saw smashed up cars literally on every street corner. I couldn't believe my eyes. On another occasion a house was set on fire, an empty one, but on a modern estate, and when I asked what had happened a woman nonchalantly told me the house had been set on fire by some passing football fans on the way to St James Park.

  4. Replies
    1. I suppose it's the fun of destroying what others have, and they don't. Big chips on small shoulders.

  5. Several US cities have the problem of houses torched at Halloween. So mindless. I believe Detroit kept the tally to about a dozen last year.

  6. Bizarre behaviour and not a 'tradition' I've heard of until now. Big chips indeed!

  7. Was there a soccer game involved...that seems to get folks riled up.

  8. Great big chips on tiny shoulders


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