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The Strange Tradition of Car-Torching on New Year’s Eve Continues, Slightly Abated

Some people count out loud, others drop a ball, while others eat grapes as the clock chimes on the final seconds of the old year, ahead of the new one. In France, some people torch parked cars – so many of them that it’s become a “tradition.”
Car-torching remains a form of protest, as seen here in Seattle, Washington, in May 2020 17 photos
2013 Tesla Model S is rigged with dynamite, blown up in protest against costly battery replacement2013 Tesla Model S is rigged with dynamite, blown up in protest against costly battery replacement2013 Tesla Model S is rigged with dynamite, blown up in protest against costly battery replacement2013 Tesla Model S is rigged with dynamite, blown up in protest against costly battery replacement2013 Tesla Model S is rigged with dynamite, blown up in protest against costly battery replacement2013 Tesla Model S is rigged with dynamite, blown up in protest against costly battery replacement2013 Tesla Model S is rigged with dynamite, blown up in protest against costly battery replacement2013 Tesla Model S is rigged with dynamite, blown up in protest against costly battery replacement2013 Tesla Model S is rigged with dynamite, blown up in protest against costly battery replacement2013 Tesla Model S is rigged with dynamite, blown up in protest against costly battery replacement2013 Tesla Model S is rigged with dynamite, blown up in protest against costly battery replacement2013 Tesla Model S is rigged with dynamite, blown up in protest against costly battery replacement2013 Tesla Model S is rigged with dynamite, blown up in protest against costly battery replacement2013 Tesla Model S is rigged with dynamite, blown up in protest against costly battery replacement2013 Tesla Model S is rigged with dynamite, blown up in protest against costly battery replacement2013 Tesla Model S is rigged with dynamite, blown up in protest against costly battery replacement
Car-torching on the night between the years is a tradition in France, albeit a regrettable and costly one. According to dw, it can be traced back to the ‘90s in a region around Strasbourg, in eastern France, when young people from low-income households picked it up “in earnest” as a tradition.

It was then adopted on a wider scale as a form of protest, reaching peak with the nationwide protests of 2005, when a record number of vehicles was torched: some 9,000 over the course of three weeks.

Even after the protests died down, car-torching remained: figures from 2019 showed that 1,316 cars were torched on New Year’s throughout the country. There are no official figures for 2020, because we all know what a terrible year it was and how it impacted the end of the year celebrations through enforced lockdowns and a string of restrictions.

At the end of 2021, “only” 874 vehicles were torched on purpose in France, which is 874 cars more than normal, but still less than in previous years. The figures were made public by Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin on Twitter, and they confirm that this strange and very unproductive tradition continues.

Not all the cars torched on New Year’s are burned down just for the heck of it, of course. Like in many other parts of the globe, arson is chosen as a means to hide another crime, including automotive theft and insurance fraud. But the reality remains that, in France, there’s a small group of people who consider torching another man or woman’s car a good way to ring in the New Year. There’s really nothing we could add to this to show just how wrong it is, because you’re probably thinking it already.

Here’s to a better, more peaceful and less dangerous 2022!



Editor's note: Photos in the gallery show a Tesla Model S being blown up by the owner as a form of protest.

 
 
 
 
 

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