The History of Fireworks
They light up our life, they have been with us throughout time, always marking our moments of happiness and success, without them, the New Year would not be what it is today. The History of Fireworks is our very own way of inviting you to step into the new year with us.
Fireworks or pyrotechnics are used for events, cultural or religious processions and so on today. But around the 7th century, when the Chinese accidentally came up with the formula of gunpowder by mixing saltpeter with charcoal and sulfur, they were in fact looking for an elixir for immortality. Granted, the result was not what they had hoped for, but it was spectacular enough nonetheless.
The “huo yao” (“fire drug”) became a sensation in Medieval China, which soon integrated it into all irs cultural feasts. The Chinese were also quick to realize the military potential of fireworks. Recorded gunpowder weaponry dates back to the 11th century. It was soon adopted by the entire world.
To this day, China has remained the main producer and exporter of fireworks, 90% of the world’s pyrotechnics material originating from here.
So how did gunpowder travel to Europe and the rest of the world? Explorer Marco Polo returned from China in 1295 bringing the spectacular fireworks. But apparently this was not Europe’s first encounter with the exploding sparks; the first time Europeans were exposed to explosives was during the Crusades. By this time, despite China’s best efforts to preserve the secret to themselves, the Arabs had already discovered (or “stolen”) the art of gunpowder weapons (which they used in battle).
In 1486, King Henry VII celebrated his wedding with a grand fireworks display (also the first in English history). The Americans have celebrated their independence with pyrotechnics since 1777.
Today, fireworks come in all forms. In the 1830s, Italian pyrotechnicians created the aerial shell (making the ice cream cone-like missiles and also rendering fireworks colorful). Today, we also have rockets, Catherine wheels and countless effects (like rain, diadem, spider, horsetail or waterfall).
Fireworks are here to stay!