When you type into google ‘Fireworks through History’ it can often be dominated by how fireworks are a big tradition for ‘American culture’ and how fireworks, once obtained by a Founding Father, became a fundamental tradition for 4th July Celebrations… which indeed it is, but let us not forget that ‘Bonfire Night’ was here first and is in fact a ‘Uniquely British Event’. We all know the story; it is a commemoration of the successful intervention of the infamous ‘Gunpowder Plot’ to blow up the houses of parliament by Catholic subversives in 1605. Fireworks are a historic reminder of how not to behave!
Let us be clear, the law is that in the 21st Century (since 2004) that no persons under the age of 18 years old are permitted to buy, sell, or use Fireworks. These laws are in place for an exceptionally good reason, to keep those using fireworks and those watching the fireworks, safe.
Children are fearful of fireworks
Often nowadays our little people are fearful of fireworks. I do think this is partly due to the ‘blame culture’ however it is often as simple as they can make a loud bang. As a result, low noise fireworks have increased in popularity as a way of all age groups enjoying firework displays, without jumping at the bangs. For all those pyro-junkies out there, do not panic, we still have some nice noisy ones to impress with!
Children did not always used to have this fear though, in fact, children in the 1950’s and 1960’s were very much included in Bonfire Night Celebrations in a very ‘hands-on’ way. Health and Safety would only stretch as far as ‘Blue Peter’ offering up common sense when using these explosive goodies!
Fireworks were not only restricted to ‘Firework Shops’ but all shops, including Post Office’s and Newsagents (which is how Dynamic Fireworks was born, originally Anglia Fireworks, created through the hybrid of two Town Centre Newsagents ‘Claydon’s’ and ‘N C News’ into a firework retail outlet and display company). Families (including children) would by Standard Selection Boxes, or larger items such as rockets and Catherine wheels, but the biggest favourite were bangers.
Bangers were small tubes of gunpowder which after lighting and being thrown would explode on the ground with a loud bang which naughty boys would often use to scare the girls or included as part of ‘knock-and-run’ to make an unsuspecting neighbour jump.
Boxes of fireworks would be in the care of adults, lit with the end of a cigarettes, rockets were launched from glass milk bottles deeming them unpredictable and bonfires would smoulder for days after the 5th of November.
Stricter rules for fireworks
With rules being much stricter nowadays with the implementation of the curfew (no fireworks after 11pm and before 7am – excluding Bonfire Night – 12am, New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year which is 1am) and the age restrictions, crowds of DIY-ers are becoming less and display attendees are becoming greater as people feel comforted that their fireworks are being let off by professionals.
What is good advice, as a mother of four, to introduce our little people to fireworks is do not be afraid to let them hear them, hats or earmuffs are always good to ease the sound if you think they may be scared, do not let them touch or play with the fireworks but let them see you enjoying the display. Sparklers are a great way for children to enjoy fireworks too and a neat trick is to pop the end of the sparkler into half a carrot to increase the length of the handle.
And remember, fireworks are part of our traditional British Historic Culture and should be celebrated!