On the crisp, cold night of December 16th, 2023 the skies over Highlands Ranch lit up with fireworks. The display – rescheduled from July 4th – featured both traditional (chrysanthemum and Roman candle) and modern effects, such as smiley faces and hearts. Beautiful and dramatic, fireworks have long been used to celebrate significant life events.


Historians believe that the first “firecrackers” – dating to China in the second century BC – were bamboo stalks thrown in the fire, where their hollow air pockets would explode with a bang as they overheated. In the Current Era, Chinese alchemists are t to have mixed saltpeter, sulfur and charcoal to create a crude gunpowder used for the fireworks celebrating holidays, coronations, weddings and births.

By the 15th century, fireworks were widely used in Europe for celebrating religious festivals and marking special occasions. The first settlers in the new world brought their love of fireworks to what would become the United States. Fireworks were used in celebration of our very first independence day – July 4, 1776 – and continue to be a big part of Fourth of July festivities.

Early fireworks primarily generated loud sounds to ward off evil spirits. Over time, the gunpowder, material and casings evolved to permit greater effects both visual and audible. Modern firework displays feature a broad range of colors and sounds, as well as symbols, letters and other shapes.

Today, Americans use fireworks throughout the year to celebrate national holidays, sports games, major concerts and other multicultural events. And sometimes we just pick a random night in December to light up the night sky.

Written by Marian Robinson