Medieval England, Firemasters, Green Men and Fireworks Celebrations
January 27, 2017
Over 2,000 years ago the Chinese developed rudimentary fireworks to ward off evil spirits. Legend has it that a Chinese cook discovered the ingredients to create an explosive powder which was first used in bamboo then in parchment. Saltpeter, a common kitchen spice at the time, charcoal and sulfur were combined and heated producing a black powder. When ignited the powder would make a loud noise and emit a flash of light. This was the original gun powder.
It is thought that Marco Polo brought some of this powder with him when he returned to the Middle East from one of his trips to China. From the Middle East, European Crusaders brought it to England in the 1200s. The substance was studied by English Scholar Roger Bacon who, legend has it, coded the proportions of the powder in his writings to prevent it from being used for warfare. Not until 1560 did chemists in Europe manage to find the right proportions to make the powder seriously deadly.
Even as it was being turned into a weapon of war, it was also being used to entertain. As fireworks became popular, they were used to celebrate military victories and celebrations of all types, especially among royalty. Fireworks were also used in religious celebrations and ceremonies.
Firemasters and Green Men
Those who became experts with the new fire-powder were called firemasters. These professionals were schooled in how to make and set off the pyrotechnics. The firemasters didn’t work alone. They had helpers who actually handled the fireworks and ignited them. These people were called green men. These assistants wore hats made out of green leaves to protect themselves from the sparks of the fireworks.
Green men were often seriously burned or the most injured from the fireworks. Their job was vital and dangerous. Sometimes, they would douse themselves in water before lighting the fireworks. Today, fireworks professionals still pay homage to the green men as their image lives on in the green man emblem of the Pyrotechnics Guild International.
The Evolution of Fireworks
Fireworks have been used in celebrations for at least 2,000 years. For centuries, there were only yellows and oranges produced by the ignited powder. Colors in fireworks have been relatively recent developments. The Italians are credited with experimenting with a variety of metals to produce the different hues. Modern firework displays provide viewers with a variety of designs and colors. However, some colors have yet to be added to current day fireworks.
Today, we reap the benefits of the evolution of fireworks. We see a variety of colors and hear a variety of sounds from loud bangs to echoing crackles. Fireworks are timed to dance with music and programmed by computers. From backyards across the land to large public displays, fireworks bring joy and amazement to people.
Fireworks in Vegas are some of the most exciting you’ll ever see. If you are planning a celebration in Nevada, fireworks will set your event apart. Come into Alamo Fireworks for a huge selection of firework options. We have everything you need to make your celebration unique. Whether you are interested in simple fare for a backyard gathering or you want to buy wholesale for a major event, we have a selection of fireworks that you will appreciate. Visit us at our Nevada location today. Let us help you make your event memorable.