My street was lined with extra cars and strangers in lawn chairs last night, as the town had a fireworks display a day early, from a new location not far from my neighborhood. Personal fireworks have been going off ever since, and today the sound of firecrackers will be heard all day long. Loud noises and explosions are traditional for Independence day, although firecrackers haven’t always been. Believe it or not, firecrackers were added to the mix because they were a safer alternative to what patriots had been doing! Collector and author Warren Dotz (previously at Neatorama) explains.
“Interestingly, firecrackers were reported to have been part of Fourth of July celebrations only after the holiday’s 11th year,” Dotz says. “The norm before then was ‘illuminations’—where people placed candles in their windows—as well as bonfires, bells, musket fire, and loud parades.”
Also, the earliest Fourth of July celebrations involved using explosives to send anvils into the air. According to Firecrackers, “A blacksmith’s anvil was place on the ground and a bag of gunpowder with a fuse was placed on top of it. Finally, another anvil was place upside down on top of the bag, the fuse was lit, and everybody scattered. This was to avoid being crushed like a cartoon character, because the top anvil was propelled into the air before returning heavily to the ground. It was said you could hear the sound of a good anvil shoot for miles in all directions.”
In 1787, a shipping merchant named Elias Haskett Derby brought a few boxes of firecrackers to America on a cargo ship from China, and he sold out immediately. After that, they became a staple of Independence Day celebrations, as gun- and anvil-shooting were deemed too dangerous for family events.
That’s just one of the 10 Facts About Firecrackers That Will Blow You Away you’ll find at Collectors Weekly. -Thanks, Lisa!
(Image credit: Flickr user Epic Fireworks)