Whether you’re on the hunt for bedazzling sparklers or stunning pyro flares, the explosive history behind fireworks can put your light show into perspective. As fireworks displays across the country grow increasingly competitive, understanding the humble beginnings of the pyrotechnic phenomenon makes lighting up the night sky even more fascinating. Here are a few crackling facts about fireworks that will get you itching to put on an incredible show.
Fact #1 - Fireworks Originated in China 2,000 Years Ago
Dating back to the 7th Century, modern fireworks were born out of China, where over 90% of fireworks today are manufactured. However, there is further evidence of the existence of firecrackers as early as 200BC, during which it’s believed a Chinese cook accidentally created gunpowder by mixing three common kitchen ingredients.
Fact #2 - They Were First Used in England for a Royal Wedding
Talk about trendsetters—though likely used in the U.K. in the 13th century, the first documented display of fireworks was recorded in 1486 for the wedding of King Henry VI and Elizabeth of York. Marking the union of the once-at-battle Yorkist and Lancastrian families, a pyrotechnic display was only fitting for an occasion that ended the dynastic war.
Fact #3 - There Was Once a Fire Master of England
Though used for the aforementioned royal wedding, fireworks weren’t a staple in England until the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Thrilled with the invention, the Queen opened up the position of Fire Master of England, bestowing upon a single expert the responsibility of stunning royal displays using rocket fireworks.
Fact #4 - Shakespeare Loved Fireworks
Referring to fireworks in a number of his plays, it can be assumed that William Shakespeare experienced his fair share of fireworks displays. In Love’s Labour Lost, a character suggests fireworks as a present to the reigning princess.
Fact #5 - Some Fireworks Are Named After Flowers
Despite names such as “butterfly” or “dragon’s egg” to characterise exotic displays that crackle and strobe, more common fireworks are dubbed with softer flower species. Shells that emit starts in perfect circles, growing in brightness as the circle expands are known as “chrysanthemums” (multiple breaks are known as “bouquets”) whereas shells that fly outward and start to descend is called a “peony.”
Fact #6 - The Expression “Damp Squib” Was Born From Fireworks
Commonly used to describe a disappointing event that was duller than expected, a “damp squib” refers to a miniature explosive device, cylindrical in shape with a fuse at the end. If wet, it fails to ignite. Don’t mistake it for a damp squid!
Fact #7 - The Largest Fireworks Display Consisted of 810,904 Fireworks
Achieved in 2016, the Guinness World Record for the largest fireworks display occurred in the Philippines and was conducted by the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ). Lasting for 1 hour, 1 minute, and 32.35 seconds, the display was dampened by heavy rains—but was stunning nonetheless.
Fact #8 - Disney Consumes the Most Fireworks
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the happiest place on Earth is the largest consumer of fireworks. Spending nearly $50 million on displays per annum, it’s no wonder a visit to the park is magical.
As fascinating as they are in the moment, knowing the colourful history of pyrotechnics makes for an interesting story to tell. A staple for most modern celebrations, it’s hard to believe the history of fireworks traces back centuries!
For next-day fireworks that suit your display, shop with us at Let’s Party Fireworks! We carry dozens of bundles and barrages perfect for a wedding, anniversary, or any explosive occasion.