It is no secret that the Chinese invented gunpowder and, with it, firecrackers. A trip to China today will only reconfirm that fact, as fireworks and crackers are still extremely popular for just about every event. It is unclear when exactly fireworks were invented, but the Chinese have always claimed both responsibility and love for fireworks throughout history.
There are many widely held beliefs about firecrackers in China. The first is that explosions in the sky were designed to wake up the dragons. Dragons were supposed to fly across the sky, delivering rain and ensuring a good annual harvest. Thus, firecrackers were used to awaken the rain dragons and usher in a prosperous season.
Another popular belief about fireworks is that they drive away evil spirits. The firecrackers are supposed to frighten evil spirits, who dislike their loud noise and bright colors. This belief is extremely prevalent among many Chinese people and explains why the exploding of firecrackers has become such a popular practice for special occasions.
No matter the belief, it is impossible to deny the popularity of firecrackers among the general public in China. Though some large cities have now outlawed firecrackers from regular use, in smaller towns one can hear the loud cackle of firecrackers exploding nearby on a daily basis. Often, sets of fireworks or loud poppers are set off from hotels, factories or large roads to commemorate weddings, the birth of children or, on occasion, funerals.
By far the most important day for fireworks in China is Spring Festival or Chinese New Year’s Day. On this day each year, cities across China host massive, spectacular fireworks displays. Individuals can also be seen setting off their own smaller poppers and noisemakers, or flashing sparklers and other less dangerous but equally beautiful and noisy firecrackers. These awe-inspiring displays of color and sound are a constant reminder of China’s vast history and passionate belief system.