Invented by the Chinese in the 7th Century to scare away evil spirits - as well as potential enemies, they made good use of the new invention of gunpowder. To this day, China is the largest manufacturer and exporter of fireworks in the world. Come to think of it, they are rapidly becoming the biggest manufacturers and exporters of just about everything!
The colours of exploding fireworks are produced by the addition of different chemicals. Red from strontium carbonate or lithium carbonate, Orange from calcium chloride, Yellow from sodium nitrate, Green from barium chloride, etc.
In Britain we celebrate guy Fawkes Night with fireworks, remembering the 'Gunpowder Plot' of 1605 when Guy and his collaborators planned to blow up Parliament and King James I (VI of Scotland).
After their capture and trial, the gang of conspirators were taken to Old Palace Yard in Westminster and St Paul's Yard, where they were to be hanged, drawn and quartered. Fawkes, weakened by torture, was the last to climb the ladder to the gallows, from which he jumped, breaking his neck in the fall and thus avoiding the latter part of his execution.