THE HISTORY OF THE SPARKLER
Sparklers are handheld fireworks that, as their name suggests, produce a shower of sparks once lit. They are typically used for all kinds of celebrations, including weddings, New Year's Eve and are, of course, a Bonfire Night staple. The sparkler has always been associated with Guy Fawkes Night, and many hold fond memories of the humble firework, but what are its origins?
The history of the sparkler can be traced back to ancient China. The Chinese are credited with inventing fireworks in the 7th century, and these early fireworks were made by filling bamboo shoots with gunpowder. Lighting filled bamboo shoots produced a loud explosion and shower of sparks, but dipping bamboo into a slurry gave sparks without the fierce bang. Over time, the Chinese developed numerous handheld devices, and these were made by mixing gunpowder with various chemicals to produce differently coloured sparks. That's right, China not only developed the traditional gold coloured sparkler, but created the earliest coloured sparklers too!
The current version of the sparkler, which has a metal rod rather than a natural bamboo handle, came from Germany in the 1850s. Germany's interpretation of the sparkler was steel wire coated in iron and gunpowder, and this revised sparkler was created as bamboo was somewhat lacking in Germany. By using steel wire, sparklers could be made cheaply, easily, reliably and uniformly, while the process was more convenient for countries outside Southeast Asia.
During the 19th century, advances in chemistry allowed for the creation of new types of sparklers that produced brighter, longer-lasting sparks. Like many common items of today, sparklers have since been engineered into a less volatile and more user-friendly product.
These days you can buy greater burning, double-dipped sparklers which provide more sparks, there are shaped sparklers, whistling sparklers, neon sparklers and even yo-yo sparklers in some parts of the world.
There is something magical about holding a slender stick and watching as a shower of bright sparks trail behind it. The hissing and crackling sounds that sparklers make as they burn only add to the sense of excitement and anticipation. For children, the joy of sparklers is often infectious - their faces light up with wonder and glee as they wave the sparklers around, creating trails of light and whimsical shapes. Even for adults, sparklers can evoke a sense of childlike wonder and bring back fond memories of childhood celebrations. Whether it's on the fifth of November, or just a fun night out with friends, the joy of sparklers is something that can be shared and enjoyed by people of all ages.