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Have Fireworks Always Been Used Just for Celebrations?

If you were to associate the word ‘fireworks’ to different things, you’d most likely list events such as the New Year’s Eve, the Bonfire Night and even the 4th of July. Many of our associations with fireworks deal with different celebrations – fireworks are often bought for birthday parties and big cultural events such as Diwali or the Chinese New Year are nothing without fireworks.

family watching a firework display

But have fireworks always been associated with fun events and celebrations?

Magical Powers

While fireworks have been a big part of celebrations since they were discovered in China, they were also used for their perceived magical qualities. It wasn’t just the fun aspect of having these firecrackers explode during events that led to their use – Chinese people at the time believed the loud bangs and explosions helped to keep evil spirits away.
The magical powers of fireworks were even used as a way to lure prosperity for the village or the family. So, since the beginning, fireworks were more than just a fun way to entertain the crowds.

A Weapon of War

It’s common myth the think the invention of pyrotechnic weaponry led to the creation of fireworks, but it was the other way around right from the start. Fireworks were used as a weapon of war quite early on, with the further development of weaponry usesof the gunpowder taking centre stage later on.
Firecrackers were used by attaching them to bows,which were then fired towards the enemy. In medieval Europe, these tiny crackers were even attached to rats and then unleashed on opponents, for example.
Fireworks have even been used in naval warfare as a way to locate enemy ships, as well as to scare off sailors.

Part of the Sadder Events in Life

Although most associate fireworks as part of the happier events in life, such as birthdays and weddings, fireworks have been used as part of events like funerals since their early invention. In China, fireworks were used in funerals, as they were thought to keep away ghosts.
Use of fireworks in funerals here in the West has not been very common until recently. Fireworks are now becoming part of celebrating one’s life even during a sad event such as a funeral.

Mischievous Uses

It must also be mentioned that fireworks have attracted pranksters from as early on as the 18th century. People have scared off neighbours or annoyed their enemies with firecrackers and different sparklers.
In fact, Rhode Island officials outlawed fireworks because mischievous uses got out of hand in 1731! Most of the laws and regulations around fireworks have indeed been developed because people weren’t using fireworks for entertainment and fun – but for series of shenanigans.
While light-hearted pranks can add a bit of fun to a mundane life, don’t use fireworks to mischievous ends. They can cause a lot more trouble, like serious injuries, and are a lot more enjoyable as a fun entertainment instead of a prank!
So, fireworks have been used in many ways in the past. Yet, the fun and magical nature of them has surely made fireworks extra special when used in celebrations!

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