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Culture Scope: Firecrackers

Firecracker

Firecrackers (and most fireworks in general) were created some 2,000 years ago within China. It all started with the accidental creation of gunpowder, said to have been created by accident when a Chinese cook mixed items which were quite common in the kitchen during those times: charcoal, sulfur and potassium nitrate a.k.a saltpeter. It was compressed in a hollow bamboo tube and then blew up in a chemical reaction.

The more widely accepted history was traced back to a craftsman named Li Tian who lived in Liu Yang in the Hunan province. It was said he was the one who mixed those chemicals together in a bamboo container and thus created the first firecracker. Because of this, Liu Yang became known as the “hometown for firecrackers and fireworks”.

Making loud noises upon their explosion, firecrackers were believed to fend off dark and evil spirits. They were used in events like birthdays, funerals and many other big events. In more modern times, however, because of the risk they pose when used irresponsibly, they are limited to very special events only. They are more commonly used during the New Year's celebration in order to drive evil spirits away for the next 12 months.


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