Why do we celebrate the 4th of July with fireworks?

Fireworks explode over Morrow
Fireworks explode over Morrow

The Declaration of Independence, unanimously declared by the thirteen colonies, was adopted by the Continental Congress in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776 — something every American citizen should probably know.

Because of this, every year on July 4, there are celebrations. 

Today, it's with barbecues, family get-togethers and, most notably, fireworks. But what was it like in 1777, the first anniversary of the signing?

It was pretty much the same.

According to America University's archives, many of the traditions celebrated in today's time started in the beginning of America's independence.

"Sound, spectacle and sentiment" played an important role, even in the 1700s.

The first "Fourth of July" celebration was in fact July 4, 1777, and took place in Philadelphia and Boston. 

The events had all of the elements of typical future celebrations, but with a colonial twist — the discharge of cannons, one round for each state in the union; the ringing of bells; a dinner; the use of music; toasts; loud "huzzas;" a parade; and, even back then, fireworks.

While they weren't exactly the same back then, fireworks did exist.

Many historians actually suggest the use of fireworks dates back to 200 B.C. and originated in China, but others believe they got their start in the Middle East or India, according to History.com.

Between 600 and 900 A.D., it is thought that Chinese alchemists began to mix potassium nitrate, charcoal, sulfur and other ingredients, which allowed them to create an early form of gunpowder.

The Chinese would then put this substance into bamboo stalks, which would produce a loud blast when thrown into a fire,, making the first fireworks.

By 1777, fireworks were improved but still not as impressive as they are today.

The use of fireworks on the Fourth spread relatively slowly, not even making their way through all thirteen states for a few decades, and the firing of cannons and muskets were much more common.

And not until later, sometime after the war of 1812, was it celebrated every year across the country.

Today, The American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) estimates more than 14,000 fireworks displays light up the sky in the U.S. each Fourth of July.


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