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Fireworks On Chinese New Year 2009
25th January 2009
Photographer : Mr. Raymond Lee @2008 | Web Design : Vincent Yong
A firework is classified as a low explosive pyrotechnic device used primarily for aesthetic and entertainment purposes. The most common use of a firework is as part of a fireworks display. A fireworks event (also called a fireworks show or pyrotechnics) is a display of the effects produced by firework devices. Fireworks competitions are also regularly held at a number of places. Fireworks (devices) take many forms to produce the four primary effects: noise, light, smoke, and floating materials (confetti for example). They may be designed to burn with colored flames and sparks. Displays are common throughout the world and are the focal point of many cultural and religious celebrations.
Fireworks were originally invented in ancient China in the 12th century for entertainment purposes, as a natural extension of the Chinese invention of gunpowder. Such important events and festivities as Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival were and still are times when fireworks are guaranteed sights. China is the largest manufacturer and exporter of fireworks in the world.
Fireworks are generally classified as to where they perform, either as a ground or aerial firework. In the latter case they may provide their own propulsion (skyrocket) or be shot into the air by a mortar (aerial shell).
The most common feature of fireworks is a paper or pasteboard tube or casing filled with the combustible material, often pyrotechnic stars. A number of these tubes or cases are often combined so as to make, when kindled, a great variety of sparkling shapes, often variously colored. The skyrocket is a common form of firework, although the first skyrockets were used in war. The aerial shell, however, is the backbone of today’s commercial aerial display, and a smaller version for consumer use is known as the festival ball in the United States. Such rocket technology has also been used for the delivery of mail by rocket and is used as propulsion for most model rockets.
Improper use of fireworks may be dangerous, both to the person operating them (risks of burns and wounds) and to bystanders; in addition, they may start fires after landing on flammable material. For this reason, the use of fireworks is generally legally restricted. Display fireworks are restricted by law for use by professionals; consumer items, available to the public, are smaller versions containing limited amounts of explosive material to reduce potential dangers.
The earliest unequivocal documentation of fireworks dates back to 12th century China, where they were first used to frighten away evil spirits with their loud sound (鞭炮/鞭砲 biān pào) and also to pray for happiness and prosperity.
Eventually, the art and science of firework making developed into an independent profession. In ancient China, pyrotechnicians (firework-masters) were well-respected for their knowledge and skill in mounting dazzling displays of light and sound. Fireworks may have also led to the use of military rockets in China. A record in 1264 states that the speed of the rocket-propelled ‘ground-rat’ firework frightened the Empress Dowager Gong Sheng during a feast held in her honor by her son Emperor Lizong of Song (r. 1224–1264). By the 14th century, rocket propulsion had become common in warfare, as evidenced by the Huolongjing compiled by Liu Ji (1311–1375) and Jiao Yu (fl. c. 1350–1412).
Since then, any event—a birth, wedding, coronation or New Year’s Eve celebration—has become a fitting occasion for noisemakers.
Amédée-François Frézier published a “Treatise on Fireworks” in 1706, covering the recreational and ceremonial uses of fireworks, rather than their military uses. The book became a standard text for fireworks makers.
Music for the Royal Fireworks was composed by George Frideric Handel in 1749 to celebrate the peace Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which had been declared the previous year.
In the United States
America’s earliest settlers brought their enthusiasm for fireworks to the United States. Fireworks and black ash were used to celebrate important events long before the American Revolutionary War. The very first celebration of Independence Day was in 1777, six years before Americans knew whether the new nation would survive the war; fireworks were a part of all festivities. In 1789, George Washington’s inauguration was also accompanied by a fireworks display. This early fascination with their noise and color continues today.
In 2004, Disneyland in Anaheim, California, pioneered the commercial use of aerial fireworks launched with compressed air rather than gunpowder. The display shell explodes in the air using an electronic timer. The advantages of compressed air launch are a reduction in fumes, and much greater accuracy in height and timing.