July 4: Why fireworks are part of the Fourth of July celebration

The Fourth of July holiday is celebrated every year with familiar traditions such as barbecues, pool time, parades, and of course, fireworks but where did fireworks come into the picture?

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Fireworks or pyrotechnics have been a huge part of the Fourth of July from the beginning. One of the founding fathers, John Adams, even predicted that they would be, according to The Associated Press.

Independence Day marked the day in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was adopted and has become America’s birthday, according to per July 4 became a federal holiday in 1870 and celebrations of the day have dated back to the 18th century as well as the American Revolution.

How did fireworks become part of July 4?

U.S. settlers brought fireworks with them to the New World from Europe, and they became a part of the first Independence Day, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association.

Fireworks were believed to be first started in the second century B.C. in ancient China, where bamboo sticks were thrown into fires that caused explosions as the hollow bamboo overheated, the American Pyrotechnics Association said, per the AP.

By the 15th century, they were being used in religious festivals and public entertainment in Europe, the AP. reported. Eventually, the same traditions carried on into the U.S.

Adams wanted America’s Indendepence Day commemorated and “ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more,” he wrote in a letter to his wife, Abigail, dated July 3, 1776, according to the AP.

The fireworks tradition grew following the War of 1812 and it was spread across the country, reported.

Popularity of fireworks

Americans celebrate with fireworks year round with sporting events like the Olympics and the Super Bowl as well as festivals and other events, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association.

“People went to the fireworks store beginning Memorial Day weekend and they just didn’t stop,” said Julie Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association, according to the AP. “They were firing off fireworks all of 2020. It shocked the industry, to be quite honest with you.”

Firework sales have grown over the last few decades. The American Pyrotechnics Association’s statistics show that in 2000, Americans spent $407 million on fireworks, according to the AP. That grew to $2.3 billion in 2022. This year, sales are expected to rise another $100 million.