A question for my American readers — did you enjoy your local fireworks display last night? They were most likely made by hand in a small factory somewhere in China.
The Asia Society blog recently posted a series of photos from a fireworks factory in China. Here is some of the accompanying text:
Fireworks and the United States have a longstanding relationship dating back to 1777, when John Adams commissioned a fireworks show as part of the Independence Day celebrations, prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. He wrote that the festivities should include “pomp and parade” but most notably, “illuminations from one End of this Continent from this time forward forever more.”
Though some may believe fireworks to be a distinctly American tradition, they are — like many things — believed to have been invented in China more than 1,300 years ago. Indeed, most of the fireworks exploding in the U.S. skies this weekend will have come from China, the world’s largest producer and exporter. And there’s no shortage of demand. In 2012, the U.S. spent roughly $1 billion on fireworks, with a staggering $645 million spent on July 4 festivities alone. According to the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA), this number continues to grow steadily, earning the industry the title “recession-proof.”
The amount of hard work to produce these short lived light shows is eye-opening. In China, fireworks are predominantly made by hand by factory workers.
Click here to see the full collection of photos.
And in case you’re wondering, I did not go anywhere to watch the fireworks last night. This video clip showing the scene from my apartment window in Beijing during Spring Festival every year will explain why!
(if you receive this post by email and cannot see the video clip, click here)