When you see fireworks you are actually looking at thousands of years of history that millions of people still gather together to witness. That alone is pretty cool, but what if you add bigfoot, Chinese alchemists, and stars to those explosive packages?

There’s nothing quite like gathering with your community to watch sparks and fire light up the night sky. Oohs and aahs echoing from the crowd mixed with the clapping from excited hands. It’s a special occasion; a tradition that brings people from every walk of life together.

To make it even more special, you only need to stick with us for a few moments as we fire off a few history lessons, a little bit of science, and get us all clued in on how those big firework shows are even set up! Hold on tight. It’s going to be a blast.

Image: Fireworks exploding above a city skyline

Source: Pixabay

The Surprising History of Fireworks

Our first stop is with one of our all-time favorite channels, Great Big Story. This video takes us to China, where it all began—just as you might expect—with Bigfoot and a quest for immortality.

It all sounds bonkers, I know, but give this a watch:

Shout out to Bigfoot for ushering in one of the most influential creations in human history.  It’s funny how our fears can urge us to act, isn’t it?

If you’d like a really in-depth look at the story of how fireworks made their way around the world, jump into this article:

7 minutes

The History and Science of Fireworks

Ever wondered where fireworks come from? What is the science behind this explosive entertainment? In celebration of the 4th of July, we give you a little background to be armed with this holiday!

Read More

The publisher History has also put together a great article to walk us through the history of fireworks. Check it out by clicking here.

Great Big Story has been featured time and time again on EWC because of their ability to shine a light on brilliant stories from around the world. They have some of the most consistently beautiful content we come across, so if you’d like to see more of it, please head on over to their website (greatbigstory.com) to explore their library!

Okay, so now that we know the origins, let’s check out at how this art form is largely performed for us today.

“The sky is our canvas and fireworks are our paint.”—Jim Souza, Pyrotechnic

Jim Souza comes from a long line in pyrotechnics—his family even pioneered setting off fireworks electrically, greatly reducing the risk of injury that comes along with explosives. (You can see some of their amazing shows on their website, pyrospec.com.)

The family has 5 generations of experience under their collective belt, so who better to tell us about what goes on behind the scenes at a firework show? WIRED met up with Jim to let us in on the process…

Via: WIRED 2

(P.s. Those little balls in the middle of the firework are called stars. They give the fireworks their patterns! 3)

8 minutes

Drones Ignite a Creative Spark

Can technology spark a new creative wave? A collaboration between Intel and Ars Electronica to create Drone 100, a record-breaking spectacle of music, light, and technology, is changing the future of technology and the awe it can inspire.

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If you’d like to see more about Pyro Spectaculars by Souza, please head over to their website (pyrospec.com). And of course, for more brilliant videos from WIRED, their channel is the place you have to be. There’s a reason we feature them so often! See what they can help you uncover by clicking here.

A Super Science Bonus!

If by chance, you’d like to see someone stick their hand in a firework… this is for you. (And if you’re curious as to how they don’t get hurt while doing so—this is definitely for you.)

Chris Bishop, the director of the Microsoft Research Lab in Cambridge, UK., gives an entertaining yet in-depth lesson on all of the fascinating science and history behind one of the worlds favorite spectacles. If you’re finding yourself with a few moments today, I’d like to welcome you to settle in and enjoy this view into the past.

I don’t know about you, but looking into the sky to see fireworks raining through it has been amplified to a whole new level of awesome (in the literal sense).

If you’d like to see more from Chris Bishop and the Microsoft Research Lab, you can keep up with them on Twitter. You can find Chris at @ChrisBishopMSFT and the lab at @msftresearchcam.

Behind every ooh and ahh is a history full of culture, curiosity, and wonder.

Fireworks have brought thousands of people from all walks of life together to behold something beautiful, and that in itself is something to celebrate. The history of fireworks is proof of our connection and shared interest in the world.

So go on, tell your friends about this. The next time you’re hanging out with your heads bent back towards the sky, let them know about what you’ve learned today. Maybe they’ll be able to feel the same awe. How awesome would that be?

Stay open to new possibilities!

– Sam

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”—Albert Einstein 

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  1. “Bigfoot and Bamboo: The Unlikely History of Fireworks.” YouTube, Great Big Story, 30 June 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=oi9AdahoTZQ. Accessed 28 Nov. 2018.
  2. “Pyrotechnics Pro Explains the Art of a Massive Fireworks Show | WIRED.” YouTube, WIRED , 3 July 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fELdiKPj_0. Accessed 28 Nov. 2018.
  3. Britannica Editors. “The Stars of Fireworks.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 3 July 2012, blogs.britannica.com/2012/07/the-stars-of-fireworks/. Accessed 14 Dec. 2018.
  4. “The Science of Fireworks!” YouTube, The Royal Institution , 13 Feb. 2012, https://youtu.be/rmtK2BgmGCw. Accessed 5 Dec. 2018.

Sam has written and edited hundreds of articles since joining the EWC team in 2016. She writes about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the EWC office, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and taster of cheeses.