Word Nerd Wednesday – FIREWORKS


Why do we light fireworks on the 4th of July? 

They’ve been used to celebrate major events in England since the days of Henry VIII. Colonists carried the tradition with them across the pond, and when America declared independence in 1776, Patriot and future President John Adams suggested including them in what he assumed would be an annual celebration of the day. 

Organizers took his suggestion in 1777, and the tradition stuck. 

In an odd coincidence, Mr. Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on the 50th anniversary of American independence – July 4, 1826. 

Other interesting fireworks facts:

  • Symbolic explosive displays trace back to shortly after the invention of gunpowder in ancient China. 
  • Fireworks are a key element of the Guy Fawkes Day celebration in the UK. They symbolize the thwarted plot by Mr. Fawkes and his co-conspirators to blow up Parliament in 1605.
  • All fireworks were orange until the 1830s when chemists added other materials to the mix to produce different colors (e.g. strontium = red, aluminum = white, and copper =blue). 
  • John Adams’ home state of Massachusetts (also my home state) is the only one in the US with a total ban on consumer fireworks. Only professional displays are allowed. 
  • More and more, lighted drone shows are replacing traditional fireworks because they can create complex aerial designs.