Who invented fireworks?
Fireworks are said to have originated in ancient China. The popular story goes that a cook mixed together saltpeter, charcoal and sulphur. The mix started burning. The cook went a step further and placed it in a bamboo tube. It exploded and the first fireworks came to be.
The invention of fireworks is linked to that of gunpowder since they are based in the same principles. Some say the invention took place some 2,000 years ago. Others place it at a later date in the 9th century of the Song Dynasty. There are those who believe gunpowder and fireworks were first discovered in India, but most agree it comes from China.
In any event, the Chinese found different uses for this hot powder over the course of time. At first it was used only to play with. Then the first firecrackers appeared in about 1,000 years ago. They were made by a Chinese monk named Li Tian from Liu Yung city in Hu Nang. His memory was revered greatly by the Chinese. They celebrated April 18 to commemorate him. Today Liu Yung City is still a major firecracker producer in China.
These firecrackers were used to celebrate the Lunar Yew Year. The Chinese believed they could frighten ghosts and evil spirits with their sounds. So it was good practice to light fireworks at the start of a new year. Later on, fireworks were used in other important events such as birthdays, funerals and festivals.
But there was more in store from the black powder. During the 6th century, the Chinese were looking desperately for ways to fend off the Mongol army. They realized that the gunpowder could be used as an affective weapon against the invaders. So the first rockets in the shape of dragons were launched.
The Europeans discovered fireworks and gunpowder by way of their travels to the east. It is said that either the Crusades or Marco Polo first imported gunpowder back home from China. Whoever was responsible, the locals welcomed this new discovery. The famous Queen Elizabeth II even created a fire official known as “Master of Fire” to make sure the royal fireworks lit up as they should.
Fireworks did not touch American soil until the 17th century. Europeans brought them to celebrate holidays and also to use against the native tribes.
Today firecrackers are used all over the world to celebrate major events and holidays, both public and private. Governments spend millions of dollars in a bid to outdo one another with spectacular fireworks. The most recognizable is perhaps the annual fireworks show held at Sydney Harbor on New Year’s Eve.