Why do we set off fireworks for the fourth?

Every year on the 4th of July we get families and friends together, eat, drink, enjoy merriment, and most uniquely of any of our holidays, we set off tons of fireworks. But why do we do this?

I'm not trying to trivialize fireworks in any way or saying they aren't worth doing. This morning I wondered out loud "Why do we set off fireworks for the fourth?" Tash said it's because of the bombs bursting in air and commemorating the victory over the British, symbolizing the bombs and bursts that happened in battle.

That sure made sense and is sort of what I had thought but I never really thought about it or had heard why. Off to the Google machine, I went.

Declaration of Independence Copy Up for Sale
Getty Images

Fireworks are not a new invention. In fact, they predate the USA by 800 years. You may know that they were invented in China, but they were first produced during the Song Dynasty from 960 - 1279. Fireworks had become quite popular in Europe for more than 100 years before our nation was born.

President #2 Helped the Traditions for the 4th

As it turns out, we have a billion-dollar fireworks industry simply because John Adams, one of the founding fathers and the second President of the United States, said so.

John Adams
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In a letter to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776, Adams wrote:

"I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more."

Hot 104.7 - KKLS-FM logo
Get our free mobile app

A year and a day later, on July 4, 1777, in Philadelphia and Boston, the first fireworks were set off in the evening to celebrate Independence Day. From there the tradition kept going and got more and more elaborate over the decades.

US Independence
Getty Images

This year when you go to one of the fireworks shops in and around Sioux Falls, just remember that if John Adams had said that we should fling cow pies into the air we would have a very different summer holiday.

Taking Time to See: Whittier Neighborhood Park Mural in Sioux Falls

I've lived in Sioux Falls for over a decade, and one of the many things I like about this town is that it's big enough that there is always something new to see.

I'm an eastsider and drive-by Meldrum Park on 6th street several times a week. It's a showcase of the best of Sioux Falls; often full of family gatherings, kids playing, and sports; it's a true neighborhood park.


LOOK: Route 66’s quirkiest and most wonderful attractions state by state

Stacker compiled a list of 50 attractions--state by state--to see along the drive, drawing on information from historic sites, news stories, Roadside America, and the National Park Service. Keep reading to discover where travelers can get their kicks on Route 66.



More From Hot 104.7 - KKLS-FM