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Remember the joy of cracker night?

IN four weeks' time we celebrate the beginning of a new year, a time when people make resolutions for the coming twelve months.

Some stick to their resolutions but for many these musings are quickly forgotten as we move into everyday living.

New Year's Eve is celebrated in many different ways, but one thing is for certain.

The occasion will be celebrated with lots of fireworks around the world.

Technology has given us the opportunity to watch the firework displays from Sydney Harbour, Brisbane's South Bank, and other parts of the globe.

Fireworks attract thousands of people to watch the sky light up in a colourful display of exploding pyrotechnics.

For us older folk we can remember when we were able to have our own displays of fireworks on November 5 each year.

This night was called 'cracker' night or the more proper term was 'Guy Fawkes Night'.

Cracker night was a big event in every home and neighbourhood.

For weeks prior to the evening the neighbourhood kids would collect old timber, logs and anything else that would burn and build a large bonfire.

In the lead-up to this night the local shops sold an array of fireworks - sky rockets, catherine wheels, jumping-jacks, bungers of all sizes, fountains of colour - which children and adults alike would buy.

Just imagine the smiles on the children's faces as sky rockets soared into the night bursting into colourful stars and sparkles.

It was a night of sheer joy for all.

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The tradition of Guy Fawkes-related bonfires actually began when the failed Gunpowder Plot to blow-up the Houses of Parliament in Britain was foiled in the night between the 4th and 5th of November 1605.

Agitated Londoners who knew little more than their King had been saved, joyfully lit bonfires in thanksgiving. As years progressed, however, the ritual became more elaborate.

Soon, people began placing effigies onto bonfires, and fireworks were added to the celebrations. Effigies of Guy Fawkes graced the pyres.

On the night itself, Guy is placed on top of the bonfire, which is then set alight; and fireworks displays fill the sky.

The tradition crossed the oceans and established itself in the British colonies over the course of a few centuries.

Most Australian states have banned the purchase and use of fireworks by the citizenry as a means of reducing the number of accidents and in many cases maiming of people who were injured by their use.

Nowadays fireworks are usually only seen at public events such as the local show, school fete, New Year's Eve celebrations and other big events.

These displays have become more elaborate as the years progress.

And firework displays still provide enjoyment to thousands of people across the world as one way of celebrating a special event in time.

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