Things That Go BANG!

CakeAndrea here, Today is a special festive day here in America. The fourth of July—our Independence Day—is a high point of the summer season. Traditionally celebrated with outdoor barbeques replete with hot dogs, hamburgers and raspberry-blueberry-whipped cream flag cakes—hip, hip hooray for the red, white and blue! And along with all-American food, fireworks is an integral part of the festivities.

So, in the spirit of “things that go bang,” I thought I would give a few highlights on the history of gunpowder, which is the catalyst of filling the skies with bursts of bright color.

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National Days!

by Mary Jo Most countries of the world have national days that celebrate their identity. That usually usually means the day that independence was proclaimed, as in the US, or negotiated, as was the case in many countries that had been colonized like much of Africa. But there can be lots of variations. Hungary, for example, celebrates St. Stephen's Day. The United Kingdom doesn't exactly have a national day, though sometimes the Queen's Official Birthday the second weekend in June is treated as such. (Her birthday is actually April 21st, but the weather is better for speeches and parades in …

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A Bang of a Birthday!

Andrea/Cara here, festooned in red, white and blue for America’s grand birthday party celebration today. And for all of you in other countries around the globe, come party with us! You’re invited to come to share in the hot dogs, hamburgers, blueberries, strawberries and whipped cream that are among the traditional picnic favorites served across our country. Another grand tradition of the day is fireworks—no Fourth of July would be complete without the spectacular bursts of bright colors and loud bands lighting up the night sky. (Quite fitting, I suppose, since creating our country demanded that we set off a …

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Stars and Stripes Forever!

Cara/Andrea here, Today is a festive day here in the United States as all around the 50 states we celebrate the birthday of our nation with lots of traditional All-American parties. There are town picnics, featuring hamburgers, hot dogs, coleslaw, strawberry ice cream and blueberry pie, followed by a blaze of brilliant fireworks (I always enjoy watching the dazzling display over the National Mall in Washington, DC on television.) And of course there is much flag waving, with bright flashes of red, white and blue snapping in the summer breeze. The sight of the Stars and Stripes sets many a …

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Regency Pyrotechnics

What do Vauxhall, the court of Queen Elizabeth, Cuper’s Gardens, (which is described intriguingly as “the scene of low dissipation . . . and the great resort of the profligate of both sexes” — rather like our local mall,) the celebration of the wedding of George III, and Kensington Gardens have in common?
Fireworks. Big, bright rockets and Catherine wheels and crackers. Fireworks were the sound and light show of the Eighteenth Century. The extravaganza that marked all great and festive events.