In advance of the 4th of July, I’ve been reading up on the origin of fireworks. You’d think it would be an American story, seeing as how we love our rockets and bombs (as George Carlin used to say, we have the only national anthem that mentions them). However, not the case!
The earliest documentation of these “recreational explosives” dates back to the 9th century during the Tang Dynasty in China. That discovery owes it’s history to the development of gunpowder, from experimentation in Chinese alchemy by Taoists in the pursuit of immortality. Gunpowder is regarded as one of the “Four Great Inventions” of China. All great ideas come something else, it seems.
Along the way, they evolved. In the 1700s, the Italians figured out how to add color to exploding fireworks by tinkering with some of the chemical combinations. Blue is the hardest color to make, by the way. At the same time, the Germans focused on technological advancement, helping to introduce different shapes or pyrotechnic effects. All this was done for different reason in different societies throughout history. Originally, the Chinese thought fireworks helped scare off evil spirits from family events. The English used them to precede Royal appearances. In America, they’re most associated with their first appearance stateside, Independence Day, or that time we set off to be our own thing.
We go on the same journey in our lives. We set off to be our own thing. Why we do it (and how we do it) is constantly changing and evolving. When we think of fireworks, we usually focus on the overall spectacle: big, colorful, loud, up high. But just as important is what fireworks signify: every once in a while, remember to stop, watch, and celebrate.
Founder, The Idea Enthusiast. Speaker, Trainer, Facilitator, and writer about all things creative consulting. DC-based consultant to individuals who want to be more creative, teams who want to collaborate without fear, and anyone who wants to deliver the best pitches and presentations.