The craft of making and setting off fireworks is called pyrotechnics, from the Greek pyro, “fire,”+ techne, “art.”
Consumers spend about $662 million on fireworks each year.
Sparklers are deceivingly benign. They can actually burn as hot as 2,000° F.
Boston’s annual 4th of July fireworks includes 5,000 pounds of explosive material, which is about the same amount of energy a person’s heart will expend during an entire lifetime.
There are about 14,000 firework shows in the United States on July 4th
During the 4th of July, Americans light about 175 million pounds of fireworks, which is equivalent to about 100,000 lightning bolts.
The largest firework show in the United States is the Macy’s “Lights Up the Night” show in New York over the Hudson River on July 4th. The show includes over 40,000 shells, and more than 3 million people watch the spectacle.
The Boston firework display for July 4th is one of the most expensive shows at a record $2.5 million. The 20-minute show is accompanied by music from the Boston Pops.
The earliest recorded use of fireworks dates back to 200 B.C. in China during the Han Dynasty. People would roast bamboo stalks until the air inside would sizzle and explode. The resulting loud “pop” was believed to frighten evil spirits and usher in happiness and luck.
In Japan, a signature summer tradition is the many firework festivals (hanabi taikai) that take place nearly every weekend, culminating in over 800 shows in August. While traditionally used to ward off evil spirits, fireworks in Japan are rarely used to celebrate the New Year.
Early fireworks in the form of empty bamboo stalks were invented in China in 200 B.C. However, when the Chinese later invented gunpowder sometime between A.D. 600-900, fireworks became even louder and flashier.