As 2022 comes to a close, it feels more than ever like the pandemic is behind us. Perhaps the biggest indicator of our improving societal health is the return of social gatherings, both privately and in shared public spaces. This year, on December 31, Paris will once again ring in the new year with one of the world’s most spectacular sound, light, and pyrotechnics shows.
It’s been three years since tourists joined Parisians along the Champs-Élysées to celebrate this French New Year’s Eve tradition, which culminates with fireworks above the Arc de Triomphe. Were I in Paris, I would definitely attend. I’d undoubtedly enjoy the two-hour show but such events mean more to me than simply being a source of free entertainment. I love the idea that nations, and cities, and small towns around the world set aside funds for the express purpose of edifying and nurturing the masses.
When I visit a public park, be it a national geographic wonder or a local picnic area, one of the things I like most about the experience is the fact that everyone has access to it. Society has chosen to set aside some of its treasures for all to enjoy, not just a privileged few. Such is the case with this festive Parisian ritual.
Below is a video of the closing minutes of the show that ushered in 2020. Many people now wish to forget that year. However, I imagine those standing in the streets of Paris that night were buoyed with feelings of hope and goodwill. I certainly am every time I rewatch this clip.
Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and hopeful 2023 with many cherished moments shared with other human beings—be they total strangers or those you dearly love.