How Fireworks Were Invented (and Why We Use Them to Celebrate)

The fireworks recorded by historians of ancient China were, of course, rudimentary compared to the complex rockets and other devices used by pyrotechnicians today. Essentially, the first firecrackers were made by simply setting fire to bamboo sticks which, due to the air trapped in their rods, burned loudly and brightly over campfires. Sometime after AD 600, Chinese artificers began to use early forms of gunpowder in incendiary bamboo sticks, greatly increasing their explosive power.

Fireworks later took hold in Europe thanks to gunpowder coming from the East via the Silk Road trade route, possibly by the legendary Italian explorer Marco Polo himself. There they underwent further developments – including the addition of substances which changed the color of the explosions, a development which occurred in Italy around the 1830s. Brightly colored explosives featured in many major events in across the continent, such as the coronations of monarchs and royal weddings.

[Featured image by unknown author via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled ]

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