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23 May, 2024
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From troublesome youth to social responsibility

State struggles to deal with annual 'labratzia' phenomenon

Yiannis Ioannou

Yiannis Ioannou

by Yiannis Ioannou

In my youth, I was what you would call a troublesome young man who loved firecrackers. It wasn't just because of where I grew up in my mother's village in Greece, where military history was celebrated, and almost all of my family's ancestors had died for faith and country, from Orlofika to the Korean Expeditionary Force. It was also due to the natural process of adolescence that took hold of me when I reached high school, as well as the established social norms and customs of the Aegialeia region.

It all started with factory firecrackers, but soon enough, I was experimenting with more dangerous explosives. Looking back, I realized that I was lucky to have escaped serious injury numerous times. I also came to understand that playing with firecrackers was not only annoying for those around me, but it could also be dangerous for the environment. The cost of buying and consuming them was nothing but a waste of money, and the entire process had nothing to do with tradition but rather with behavioral immaturity and the seasonal profiteering of various con artists.

Now that I'm older and wiser, I see that my experience is no different from the custom of Lambratzia in Cyprus, where young people steal wood, set up makeshift pipes, or throw gas canisters into the fire, making it more dangerous and disruptive for the community. The issue of firecracker trading occupies police reporting, and the delinquency and danger strip the custom of its true dimension. This kind of behavior is based on a single dimension: how it disturbs the peace of fellow citizens, particularly the most vulnerable among us.

There are many things that the State should do to deal with this phenomenon every year, and sometimes it succeeds, while other times, it fails. However, there is also a level that we as a local community must look at. If we, as parents, as a local community, and as a State, can convince people of the futility of picking up wood from yards or dragging boxes of "dum-bum," we will have accomplished a lot that would find application in every facet of our social life and daily routine.

As we celebrate Resurrection Day, let's separate custom from anti-social behavior, and work towards a safer and more harmonious society. After all, we need it as a country.

Twitter @JohnPikpas

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

Cyprus  |  firecrackers  |  Easter

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