Americans get ready to celebrate Independence Day on July 4th with fireworks. Even in this jaded age fireworks can awe us and to make us swoon.
The First Fireworks
The first fireworks were seen around 200 BC, when the ancient Chinese would cook pieces of bamboo in a fire. Hollow pockets in the bamboo would explode, and evil spirits would be kept at bay.
By 900 AD in the Tang Dynasty, Chinese alchemists were mixing saltpeter (potassium Nitrate) as well as charcoal and sulfur, which was an early form of gunpowder.
They stuffed it into hollowed-out bamboo sticks and then roasted them to make a loud blast. Today, fireworks are a part of the Chinese New Year and the mid-autumn moon festivals.
In the 10th century, Chinese had discovered that fireworks could be attached to arrows and create basic bombs. By the 12th century they were able to shoot the explosives into the air, thus creating the first aerial fireworks.
By 1240 AD by 1240 AD, Arabs had acquired knowledge about gunpowder and its uses from China. Arab writers referred to fireworks, rockets, and other incendiaries with the term “Chinese blossoms.”
The 13th century brought increasing trade, and formulas for gunpowder started appearing all over Europe and Arabia. Alchemists began to play around with the formula, and they created even more powerful gunpowder for use in muskets and cannons.
The same period in England, fireworks experts were referred to in the English language as “firemasters,” and their assistants were known as “green men,” due to the fact that they wore caps constructed from leaves. This was to protect them from sparks from the fireworks.
Fireworks in Europe
During the Renaissance in Europe There were schools for training artists. Additionally, fireworks were well-known in Italy. During the 1830s, the Italians added trace amounts metals to in order to make multicolored fireworks.
Fireworks were being used at public celebrations and religious ceremonies They became very well-liked by European rulers. The first documented firework display to be seen within Great Britain took place on Henry VII’s wedding day , 1486. Henry VII was the father of the much-loved Henry VIII.
In France, fireworks were part of the display to entertain guests at Versailles In Russia, Czar Peter the Great staged a five-hour fireworks display in celebration of the birth of son.
On the 15th of May 1749, the England’s Duke of Richmond set off a firework show near Whitehall situated on the River Thames, for the benefit of King George II to celebrate the signing of the treaty that ended the War of Austrian Succession. In honor of the occasion, the composer George Frideric Handel created an accompanying piece of music entitled, “Music for the Royal Fireworks.”
Unfortunately, some of the fireworks hit on the area that was home to the remainder of the fireworks. The fireworks ignited in a single moment, killing three spectators.
The New World
Captain John Smith may have set off the first fireworks in Jamestown Colony. Jamestown Colony in 1608.
On July 4, 1777, fireworks displays were held to celebrate America’s birth anniversary. In 1789, the inauguration of George Washington was celebrated with a fireworks show.
The day prior to the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, John Adams wrote addressed to his wife
“The day is going to be significant in the history of America, … I’m inclined to believe this day is going to be remembered by succeeding generations as the grand anniversary celebration. It ought to be solemnized through pomp and Parade … lightings of bonfires as well as fireworks illuminations … from one end of this continent to the next, all the way to the present day forever.”
Around the globe, countries use fireworks to mark the occasion.
France is known for its fireworks. It’s the eve of Bastille Day (July 14) in commemoration of the storming at the Bastille in 1789. Hungary sets off fireworks on the 20th of August. in India fireworks are a an integral part of the “festival of light” (Diwali) which occurs in October or November each year.
Japan has over 200 fireworks events during the month of August with the biggest being in Tondabayashi as well as Osaka. For Monte Carlo, fireworks are part of the National Day of Monaco on the 18th of November.
Singapore is home to Singapore Fireworks Celebrations on its National Day. In Switzerland, fireworks are set off on their national day of celebration, August 1st.
Great Britain uses fireworks on Guy Fawkes Night, November 5, to commemorate the defeat of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605. Large fireworks displays are seen throughout the towns in Sheffield, Holyhead, Inverness, Cambridge, and Cardiff.
In the U.S., on the 4th of July, there are huge fireworks displays throughout New York City over the Hudson River, along the Charles River in Boston, and on the National Mall in Washington DC.
If you’ve been to at one of Disney parks, you’re aware that the evening usually concludes with an amazing fireworks show.
In the year 2004, Disneyland, in Anaheim, California, pioneered the use of compressed air instead of gunpowder to launch fireworks. They also used an electric timer that detonated the shells at mid-air. This led to a reduction in fumes, and better accuracy in the height and timing.
Today, the Walt Disney Company is the largest consumer of fireworks within the U.S.
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