As you get ready to take out the grill and cook an all-American meal this Fourth of July, know that there’s one part of the holiday that didn’t start as an American tradition: fireworks.
While fireworks aren’t something you’ll necessarily learn about during one of our cultural and culinary vacations, it does have some history that relates to Italy, even though the origin of fireworks dates back to China’s Han dynasty.
After Marco Polo brought fireworks from the Orient to Italy – around 1292 – Italians began to experiment. In the Renaissance, they worked with different explosive materials, including gun powder, charcoal, and metals, to make fireworks a bit more of an art form. Artists even designed structures, or “temples,” as well as small floats to control the fire while still delighting the crowds with bright explosions. By the 17th century, fireworks were put on display for all sorts of public gatherings, from weddings and coronations to religious events throughout Europe. Today, Italians make fireworks continue to set off fireworks during big celebrations, such as San Giovanni Feast Day.
The year after America gained its independence, on July 4, Philadelphia had its very first firework display, in which the city shot off a number of rockets, including one that “displayed 13 stars.” That same year, Boston had its first fireworks, and by 1779, they fired 13 rockets. And just like that, after a long and storied history, fireworks became an important part of Fourth of July celebrations around the United States of America.
Have a wonderful Fourth of July everyone!
By Liz Hall
Try this great recipe for your July 4th celebration: chicken kebabs!
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