The Inventory Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in the Netherlands contains ICH of which the communities, groups or individuals involved have written a safeguarding plan. Those plans are reviewed by an independent review committee. Every two years an evaluation of the safeguarding takes place.


For many people New Year’s Eve does not go by unnoticed. The most hearable and visible are the fireworks that are lit around midnight. Around that time many people go out on the street to watch the fireworks. In this way we shoot the old year away and welcome the new one. On the three working days before January 1st people can buy Dutch consumer fireworks at certified outlets. In those three days the fireworks shops are primarily filled with fathers and sons who come to get their ‘loot’. People are allowed to light the purchased fireworks themselves, on New Year’s Eve from 6 PM to 2 AM in this very night. It is the custom that adults light their fireworks on the street ‘at the doorstep’. Neighbours, friends and family seize the opportunity to wish each other a happy new year. Thus lighting fireworks strengthens the social cohesion in the neighbourhood. Lighting fireworks by private persons is under debate. The resistance is growing because of the noise pollution and the accidents that are happening again each year, especially with lighting heavy, illegal fireworks.



A part of the Dutch population lights fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Another, large part watches the neighbour’s fireworks. Police, fire brigade and emergency department employees in hospitals are always extra alert. The working group Maintaining Consumer Fireworks in the Netherlands is a group of fireworks lovers who have joint forces to uphold the values of lighting of consumer fireworks. The working group tries to change the image of fireworks, using promotional material, and to open a discussion in a positive way. They are against illegal, dangerous fireworks and antisocial behaviour.



The Chinese have a long tradition of the use of fireworks at religious events, to drive away evil spirits. With the invention of gunpowder in the thirteenth century it became easier to make fireworks. After some centuries gunpowder became known in Europe as well. There it was used in warfare, but also in large fireworks. In the seventeenth century there were large-scale fireworks spectacles at the court of Versailles. Fireworks were lit at festive and distinguished ceremonies in the Netherlands as well, like at the wedding parties of the Oranges. In the course of the nineteenth century the wealthy bourgeoisie started to light more fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Fireworks factories were established in the Netherlands. After World War II fireworks became popular in broad strata of the population. The increased prosperity made it possible that everyone could buy fireworks. It was not until 1965 that flares and gillende keukenmeiden (lit.: yelling kitchen maids) became massively popular. In 1980 national legislation was introduced that restricted the permitted noise level.. Many bangers were now officially prohibited and thus, unintentionally, a market for illegal fireworks grew. At the same time the ornamental fireworks – because of the expansion of the legally admitted maximum amount of gunpowder in fireworks – was becoming better and more beautiful and the range of it increased. To warn the consumers for the dangers of improper handling of fireworks, more campaigns have been launched since the seventies. After disasters in a fireworks factory (Culemborg 1991) and in a fireworks storage room (Enschede 2000), all factories were closed. In 2014 the starting time of lighting was changed from 10 AM to 6 PM on December 31st. This meant the loss of a part of the tradition, the so-called day-lighting.



Werkgroep Behoud Consumentenvuurwerk Nederland