Fireworks have been used around the world for celebrations of all kinds for centuries. When and where did this tradition begin? Though most commonly believed to have been invented by a befuddled chef who accidentally mixed charcoal, sulfur, and saltpeter in a bamboo tube resulting in an explosion, many experts believe otherwise, stating that this was not so much the invention of fireworks, but the invention of gunpowder.
These and other experts date the invention of fireworks to the ninth-century Song Dynasty. Wherever its origins may lay, the official firecracker, in rudimentary form, was invented by the monk Liu Yang one thousand years ago. This occasion came to be celebrated every April 18th by the offering of sacrifices to Liu. This eventually resulted in the refined explosive fireworks of today.
Fireworks go around the World
Pyro Universe’s History of Fireworks (Pyro Universe, April 29, 2010) explains that fireworks traveled from China to around the world in the thirteenth century with the help of renowned explorer Marco Polo, who is credited with bringing the Chinese tradition to Europe. The powder for the fireworks was initially put into weaponry for the European militia and used in such weapons as guns, cannons, and early rockets. The Italians and Germans were amongst the first to change the tools’ purpose from killing to entertainment, returning to fireworks around the eighteenth century. The first families to make these products, the Grucci, Rozzi, and Zambelli families, are still brand names in the fireworks business today.
The English soon became intrigued by the explosive new invention, with Queen Elizabeth the First, being amongst the first to popularize them. Fireworks soon began impacting Great Britain’s literature, finding mention in works by master authors such as Shakespeare. The Queen later created a position called ‘The Fire Master of Britain’.
Fireworks explode over North America
The new fad sprung from Britain to its colonies, sweeping over America and Canada, and soon began to become a commonplace part of North American existence. In the 1970s, China began mass export of fireworks around the world and became one of its leading suppliers. Hong Kong flourished under new laws that allowed exporters send out their merchandise.
Fireworks are now a fixture, used to celebrate occasions such as Canada Day, President’s Day, New Years, Chinese New Year, and many other celebrations and occasions. They are now commonly available to be used by individuals within the United States and Canada for family fun…when used in smaller, thus safer, quantities.