Fireworks have become synonymous with celebrations, from bringing in the New Year to a wide range of special events throughout the world. But how did this all begin? Although the beautiful colors and artistic designs are now the standard, it was the noise that really began the firework revolution over two thousand years ago. From bamboo stalks to computerized adaptations, here is the fiery history of fireworks.
Bamboo Creates a Boom
It is believed that the first form of fireworks started in China in approximately 200 B.C. When bamboo stalks were thrown into the fire, the pockets of air and sap burst through the walls of the stalks, causing a loud, booming noise. While this frightened people at first, they began to believe that the noise could also scare away evil spirits. It soon became tradition to use these primitive fire crackers at certain celebrations to keep those malevolent spirits away.
Gun Powder Boosts the Bang
China is also known for creating the first forms of gunpowder, possibly around 600-900 AD. These first combinations of different chemicals also create a loud bang when thrown into the fire. Alchemists began experimenting with different combinations, until they had a form that they could concentrate and contain. Bamboo still played a part, as they filled stalks with these new combinations for transportable fire crackers. These became crude bombs that were attached to arrows and hurled at enemies through the air.
Eventually, bamboo went to the wayside and other materials were used to create tubing for the gun powder, along with paper fuses. Mostly used as weapons, these varying gun powder-filled devices began spreading across the world, leading to more creative ways to use gun powder than just for war.
The First Firework Displays
When Marco Polo brought fire crackers back from the Orient in 1292, the Italians began experimenting with ways to use this new fire power. By the Renaissance period, new advances were made into creating more elaborate fireworks for both war and pleasure. The Italians developed aerial shells that could be launched into the air, with other creative light shows done from the ground. It became common for royalty across the world to show their wealth with bigger and more intriguing firework shows for their guests.
Over the course of hundreds of years, fireworks evolved, becoming bigger and more elaborate. Many performances were held on water to enhance the effects. However, these still were usually for royalty or the wealthy. It wasn’t until the 1700’s that England began producing public firework shows for everyone to enjoy. This soon spread to other parts of the world, including the United States.
In the U.S., fireworks have been a part of the celebration of the Fourth of July from the very beginning. On the first Fourth celebration in 1777, firework displays were performed across the nation, celebrating our newfound freedom.
At Alamo Fireworks, we are proud to be a part of this long-standing history, selling quality fireworks for over 50 years. Take a cue from history and make your next celebration even more special with your own beautiful firework display. Visit an Alamo Fireworks for all of your fireworks needs!