Fireworks are synonymous with celebrations, and we have Ancient China to thank for this. China is recognized as the birthplace of fireworks, which form an integral part of most of the Chinese festivals and traditions.
The discovery of fireworks, or namely the formulation of gunpowder is believed to have occurred by chance approximately 2,000 years ago in China. It is thought that a Chinese cook accidentally mixed three common kitchen ingredients:These were heated over a fire and dried to give a black flaky powder which burned with a loud bang when ignited.
This crude, early mixture has come to be known in our modern world today as gun powder. The Chinese named this fascinating black powder “huo yao” (“Fire Chemical”) and developed it further. The mixture was inserted into the hollow of a bamboo stick and when thrown into a fire, the gases produced by the ignited burning powder inside caused an immense build up of pressure and blasted the tube apart. The basic fire cracker was born.
Thereafter, fire crackers played an essential part to Chinese festivities -weddings, religious rituals -nay cause for celebration heard their bang due to the belief that they were thought to be powerful enough to scare off evil spirits.
It was inevitable that the time would come when people would begin to realise that these now powerful explosives could be applied to warfare. The Chinese were well aware of the killing power these explosives had and within 100 years had not only developed fire arrows (bamboo fire crackers attached to regular arrows and shot at the enemy) but even ‘Ground Rats’. These consisted of propelling rats from inside the bamboo fire crackers and toward the enemy, creating a great psychological effect -scaring soldiers and causing horses to go wild. Before long, the knowledge of fireworks began to spread to the west. It is believed that Marco Polo on one of his many trips to China transported this invention to the Middle East where European Crusaders brought it to England.
Even today in China, firework displays form an important part of many celebrations and cultural events, like the Chinese New Year, to scare off spirits and welcome the new year with happiness and joy in everyone’s life. Eventually, fireworks spread to different cultures and societies around the world and have become an integral part of celebrations, victories, and joyous occasions. The recent developments in the fireworks industry and pyrotechnics have made musically-synchronized firework displays a huge success.
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