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Ushering the New Year with Firecrackers

Filipino New Year's eve shall always be celebrated with firecrackers. Adapted from the Chinese, Pinoys believe that the previous year's bad luck should be driven out of one's house and out of one's life with firecrackers and pyrotechnics.

I was always aware that firecrackers originally came from China. I didn't know that:

"Fireworks originated in China some 2,000 years ago. The most prevalent legend has it that fireworks were discovered or invented by accident by a Chinese cook working in a field kitchen who happened to mix charcoal, sulphur and saltpeter (all commonly found in the kitchen in those days). The mixture burned and when compressed in an enclosure (a bamboo tube), the mixture exploded.

Some sources say that the discovery of fireworks occurred about 2,000 years ago, and other sources place the discovery sometime during the 9th century during the Song dynasty (960-1279), although this could be confusion between the discovery of gunpowder by the cook and the invention of the firecracker.
Some sources suggest that fireworks may have originated in India, but in the October 18, 2003, online edition of The Hindu, an Indian national newspaper, the Chinese are credited with the discovery of gunpowder.

A Chinese monk named Li Tian, who lived near the city of Liu Yang in Hunan Province, is credited with the invention of firecrackers about 1,000 years ago. The Chinese people celebrate the invention of the firecracker every April 18 by offering sacrifices to Li Tian. During the Song Dynasty, the local people established a temple to worship Li Tian.

The firecrackers, both then and now, are thought to have the power to fend off evil spirits and ghosts that are frightened by the loud bangs of the firecrackers. Firecrackers are used for such purposes today at most events such as births, deaths and birthdays. Chinese New Year is a particularly popular event that is celebrated with firecrackers to usher in the new year free of the evil spirits.

To this day the Liu Yang region of Hunan Province remains the main production area in the world for fireworks. It is important to remember the geographic origin of fireworks, because often detractors of the fireworks industry say that fireworks are produced in China to take advantage of cheap labor. But the reality is that the fireworks industry existed in China long before the advent of the modern era and long before the disparity in east-west wage rates, and hopefully the fireworks industry will exist long after the existence of communism has an effect over the Chinese economy."

Read more here.

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