From Academic Kids

For other uses, see Fireworks (disambiguation).
Missing image
The Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House illuminated under New Year's Eve Fireworks 2005

A fireworks event (fireworks display, fireworks show) is a spectacular display of the effects produced by firework devices on various occasions. Fireworks competitions are also regularly held at a number of places.


History of fireworks

In the Han Dynasty (206220 BC) firecrackers were made by roasting bamboo to produce the loud sound (known as "bian pao") that was intended to frighten evil spirits. In the Northern and Southern Dynasties (AD 420581) the firecrackers were used not only to dispel evil but also to pray for happiness and prosperity.

Missing image
An etching of the 'Royal Fireworks' display on the Thames in 1749.

The discovery of gunpowder and the invention of the first true fireworks are traditionally credited to the Chinese, although India is also a likely source. Some scholars believe fireworks were developed in the Sui and Tang Dynasties (581907), but others believe there were no fireworks until the Northern Song Dynasty (10th century).

Since then, any event—a birth, death, wedding, coronation, or New Year's Eve celebration—has become a fitting occasion for noisemakers.

Musick for the Royal Fireworks was composed by George Frideric Handel in 1749 to celebrate the peace of Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which had been declared the previous year.

America's earliest settlers brought their enthusiasm for fireworks to the United States. Fireworks and black powder were used to celebrate important events long before the American Revolutionary War. The very first celebrations of Independence Day were in 1777, six years before Americans knew whether the new nation would survive the war; fireworks were a part of those festivities. In 1789, George Washington's inauguration was also accompanied by a fireworks display. This early fascination with their noise and color continues today.

Missing image
The World Showcase Lagoon at Epcot during IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, the nightly fireworks show

In 2004, Disneyland in Anaheim, California, started using air burst fireworks launched with compressed air rather than black powder, the first time that such a launch system was used commercially. The display charge is detonated using an electronic timer. The advantages of compressed air launch are a reduction in fumes, and much greater accuracy in height and timing.

Today, the world's most prominent industry competition for fireworks manufacturers is Le Mondial SAQ in Montreal.

Fireworks events

Bonfire night in Britain

In 1605 Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators attempted to blow up the British Parliament with 36 barrels of gunpowder in the cellars of Westminster Hall. On 5 November, Fawkes was arrested and Parliament was saved. That night is now celebrated as bonfire night by filling the sky with exploding fireworks, and by burning an effigy of Guy Fawkes on a bonfire.

Remember, remember the fifth of November.
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.
– a children's rhyme about the events, still spoken today

Licensing for firework sellers has recently been introduced in the United Kingdom. Fireworks cannot be sold to people under the age of 18 and setting them off between 11pm and 7am is only allowed at specific times of the year, including New Year and Bonfire night.

Along the same lines, in Canada, during Halloween, many fireworks displays seen throughout.

Independence Day in the United States

Fireworks are a popular part of the '  celebrations.  These are going off over the .
Fireworks are a popular part of the United States' Independence Day celebrations. These are going off over the Washington Monument.

Each year before the American Independence Day, the Fourth of July, retail fireworks stands spring up around the nation in states that do not severely restrict or outright ban all fireworks for safety reasons (such as Nevada). Popular types of legal use-at-home fireworks include:

Note that South Carolina sells slightly more explosive fireworks in addition to these popular types; these are usually referred to as "firecrackers". Interestingly, South Carolina also sells fireworks at stands year-round.

Because of the hodge-podge of different regulations in the various U.S. states, many towns at or near state borders set up shop in order to attract customers from areas where fireworks are restricted. A similar situation can happen with Native American tribes that have reservation lands. They often sell firecrackers that are not legal for sale outside of the reservation. Such firecracker types include, but are not limited to:

Note that actual ownership or sale of true cherry bombs, M-80 style salutes, or any firecracker in excess of 50 milligrams of powder is a violation of federal law (1966 Child Protection Act). Native Americans, like any other U.S. citizen, are not exempt from federal law.

New Year's Eve

Missing image
Sydney, Australia leads the world in one of the first major New Year's Eve celebrations each year

Major cities around the world host spectacular firework display on New Year's eve. Although it is now just a custom to fire off fireworks on New-Year's eve, in the past the idea was to scare 'bad forces' so they would not enter the new year. As a consequence the most popular fireworks are still those that go off with a big bang or with a bright flash.

In Western Europe the use of fireworks by the general public is usually restricted to a few hours after midnight on New Year's eve.

The retail of fireworks in Western Europe is also restricted, but the limitations differ from country to country. In the Netherlands for example the sale of fireworks is restricted to a few days before New-Year's eve, but in Belgium the sale of fireworks is legal throughout the year. Also the fireworks sold in Belgium contain more gunpowder than is allowed in the Netherlands. This leads to some illegal trafficking of fireworks from Belgium to the Netherlands.

External links


See also

de:Feuerwerk es:Pirotecnia fr:Feux d'artifice he:זיקוקין די נור ja:花火 ms:Bunga api nl:Vuurwerk no:Fyrverkeri nn:Fyrverkeri pt:Foguete pirotcnico sv:Fyrverkeri zh:烟花


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools