Fast Facts: Why Fireworks on the Fourth?

NATIONWIDE一 The trademark look of a Fourth of July celebration is barbecues, little kids with sparklers, and the main event, the bright colorful lights of fireworks exploding in the night sky while onlookers ooo and awe.

Historians believe that fireworks date back to the second century B.C. Liuyang, China. According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, the first fireworks were believed to be bamboo stalks that would explode when they were thrown into the fire. The stalks would explode because of the hollow air pockets in the bamboo.

The guess is that later on in 600-900 AD a Chinese alchemist mixed potassium nitrate, sulfur, and charcoal and then poured the powder into hollowed-out bamboo sticks which made the first man-made fireworks.

Fireworks made their way to Europe in the 13th century where Italians were the first Europeans to manufacture fireworks.

Settlers brought the fireworks with them to the New World where they became a part of the Fourth of July.

Fireworks have been a part of Fourth of July celebrations dating back to the first months of the Revolutionary War.

According to the first instance of an Independence Day celebration came in a letter from John Adams to his wife Abigail in 1776, after Congress had revised a draft of the Declaration of Independence.

“The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha in the History of America,” Adams wrote. “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival…It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

Adams was off by a couple of days but the tradition of illuminations has continued to be a part of the celebration. The first organized Independence Day took place in Philadelphia on July 4, 1777, but it would not become an official holiday until 1870.

According to a June 29, 2018 article from Fortune, Americans spend almost $1 billion on fireworks each year. By weight, it roughly adds up to 268 million pounds of fireworks which is roughly a pound of pyrotechnics for every American man and woman.

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