Fireworks can simply be defined as low explosive pyrotechnic devices that are mainly used for aesthetic and entertainment purposes. A fireworks display or a fireworks show comes across as the most common use of any firework. They are obtained in various forms to produce four primary effects, namely, noise, light, smoke and floating materials. They are also combined with colored flames to produce sparks in different colors, like red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and silver. The first documentation of fireworks dates back to China, some 2,000 years ago. They were initially used in scaring away evil spirits. Read on further to know more some more interesting and amazing information on the history, origin and background of fireworks.
Interesting & Amazing Information On Origin & Background Of Fireworks
The first firework was invented, or more precisely discovered accidentally, by a Chinese cook, while working in a field kitchen. He mixed in charcoal, sulfur and saltpeter and heated the mixture over fire and dried it to get a black flaky powder. This powder, when ignited burned with a loud bang. The powder was named “huo yao”, meaning fire chemical. The mixture was then compressed in a bamboo tube and thrown in the fire. The gases built up an immense pressure and the tube blasted. Finally, the basic firecracker was invented.
The Chinese also credit a monk named Li Tian for the invention of firecrackers some 1,000 years back. This invention is still celebrated in China on April 18 every year, to honor Li Tian. Before 14th century, fireworks were used only for ceremonies and celebrations by the royals and the rich. It was only in the Ming Dynasty that they became fitting for the common people, who started making use of the same on numerous occasions, such as birthdays, weddings, religious rituals, etc. The fireworks were believed to ward off evil spirits.
Marco Polo is credited for bringing the Chinese gunpowder to Middle East. From there, it was the Crusaders who brought it to England, on their return journey. English Scholar Roger Bacon (1214-1294) was one of the first Europeans to study gunpowder and write about it. Italians were the first to introduce fireworks that made use of gunpowder, in the 18th century. Soon, the fireworks fascinated the English also. Queen Elizabeth I made them popular during her reign. She enjoyed them to such an extent that she went on to introduce the position of “Fire Master of England”. King James II was the first person to knight his Fire Master.
For many years after their invention, fireworks used to produce shades of two colors only - yellow and orange, using steel and charcoal. It was only in the 19th century that pyrotechnicians (people responsible for the safe storage, handling, and functioning of pyrotechnics and pyrotechnic devices, like fireworks) were able to introduce shades of red, green and blue. In the 1980s, China opened up dramatically and import-export began. The first American fireworks buyers traveled to the production regions and established relations with Hong Kong exporters and other provincial export corporations.
With time, the popularity of fireworks started growing all over the world and they came to be produced as well as used in almost all the countries. In fact, they are used for various purposes today, such as births, deaths and birthdays. Till date, the Chinese believe that the firecrackers have the power to fend off evil spirits and ghosts, which are frightened by their loud bangs. Even the Chinese New Year is known popularly for being celebrated with firecrackers, to get rid of the evil spirits in the New Year.