The history of fireworks is quite lengthy, which explains why pyrotechnics are so closely associated with celebrations and major events. Over the centuries, the uses of fireworks have expanded considerably, with fireworks appearing at parades, weddings, parties, and major national holidays all over the world. The majority of fireworks production also continues to be focused in the regions where fireworks have been made historically, including China, Italy, and Germany.
The illustrious history of fireworks began around the first century BCE, when the Chinese invented gunpowder. By the 10th century CE, the Chinese were producing fireworks for Chinese New Year and other celebrations, using crackers to scare off evil spirits and promote prosperity. Early Chinese fireworks were basically firecrackers, designed to make a loud bang and a puff of smoke, although early versions of rockets were documented by the 12th century.
Marco Polo is generally credited with bringing fireworks to Europe in the 13th century, and they turned out to be a big hit, along with numerous other Eastern innovations. In Italy and Germany, several producers of fireworks began to emerge, attempting to replicate the closely guarded gunpowder formula to make their own fireworks. Italy made the next major contribution to the history of fireworks by developing self-propelled aerial shells which could be forced up high before exploding for a dramatic fireworks display; this development took place in the 18th century.
With the development of aerial shells, the history of fireworks took off, and producers began vying to make ever more elaborate and complex fireworks which would explode into radical and colorful designs. Fireworks displays began getting quite lengthy, and they featured exotic colors, designs, and shapes which were meant to captivate viewers, a far cry from the lowly crackers of the 10th century.
In the 20th century, fireworks producers began to be concerned about pollution from fireworks. Many of the chemicals which create the vivid colors associated with fireworks displays are quite harmful, and fireworks also generate a lot of pollution through partial combustion. As a result, some manufacturers began trying to produce more environmentally friendly fireworks which would generate less smoke and pollution.
While the history of fireworks has come quite a way from spirit-frightening crackers, pyrotechnics displays continue to astound people all over the world, and the distinctive popping and bright colors of fireworks are closely associated with major celebrations in the eyes of many people. Fireworks displays are typically very well-attended as a result, and companies which specialize in fireworks can command high prices for their services, especially on major holidays.