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The history of fireworks

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Ok, I’ll admit it, I’m a 4th of July junkie.  I love this day more than my birthday, more than Christmas, yes even more than the first weekend of the college football season.

As a kid we always went to a family cottage and tried to cram as much fun as possible into one 12 hour span.  Baseball, golf, swimming, the beach, hot dogs, bandminton, the list goes on.  And as I’ve gotten older that hasn’t stopped.  I guess it’s just something about grilling meat, leisure sports, a few cold beers, and things blowing up that works for me. 

That last point especially, is the key to the holiday for me.  A 4th without fireworks is like Christmas without a tree–just wouldn’t feel right.

So I thought I would pass along a history of fireworks.  I hope that everyone has a fun filled and safe holiday!

The History of Fireworks

  • The Chinese are credited with the invention of the first firework which was a bamboo case filled with explosives, although some say that India was where the first firecracker was made.
  • The first recorded fireworks display was at the wedding of Henry VII in England in 1487.
  • European royalty enjoyed fireworks so much that Elizabeth I appointed a “Fire Master of England”, James II knighted his firemaster and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V dedicated a part of his army whose only function was to stage victory displays.
  • Early settlers brought fireworks to our country. “Firings of black powder were used to celebrate holidays and impress the natives” (Wikipedia).
  • By the time that the American Revolution took place, fireworks had already been established as playing a role in celebrating events and important occasions. This is why fireworks easily came to mind when America declared its independence.
  • On July 4, 1776, we claimed our independence from Britain and the first official celebration of Independence Day (which included fireworks) occurred in 1777–before the Revolutionary War (1775-1783) was won.
  • Fireworks were also displayed at George Washington’s inauguration in 1789.
  • In the late 18th Century, politicians used fireworks to get people to attend their speeches.
  • In 1892, over one million people celebrated the 400 year anniversary of Christopher Columbus discovering America in Brooklyn, NY.
  • “Congress led the way for the encouragement of fireworks on the Fourth of July by authorizing a display on July 4, 1777, in Philadelphia, a year after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.” (Heintze)
  • Over the next couple years, Fourth of July celebrations made their way to big cities such as Boston (1777), Worcester (1779), Charleston (1783) and more.
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