What’s a New Year’s Day celebration without a fireworks display at the stroke of midnight on December 31st?
This year, unlike previous ones, the main countdown moved from the Amahoro National Stadium in Remera to the Kigali Convention Center in Kimihurura, and for obvious reasons.
It’s here that the biggest New Year’s Eve concert went down last night and into the wee hours of Sunday. We are talking Congolese Soukous maestro Koffi Olomide and his Quartier Latin band.
The first ever fireworks display in Rwanda occurred in 2005, at the Amahoro Stadium in Kigali. Rwanda Commercial Bank (BCR) spared no expense to make the spectacle memorable, splashing out a cool US$15,000 on Kenyan firm, Tononok Fireworks Ltd to coordinate the ten-minute display that ushered in the year 2006.
Nigerian musician 2Face, Tanzania’s Ray C and a host of local music talents then took to the stage shortly after to crown the night.
Since then, fireworks displays have become more or less of an annual event to usher in every New Year in Kigali. There are a few exceptions though, like in 2012 when no single fireworks display was recorded in all of Kigali and by extension the country.
The Rwanda National Police explained then that no event organizer or person had approached the authorities for permission to do the same.
Today, fireworks displays have come to epitomize high-adrenaline celebration –much like the popping of champagne. Apart from New Year’s celebrations, fireworks have also come to be synonymous with the Olympic Games opening ceremonies.
And the tradition has held on for thousands of years, only getting better technologically through the course of time.
In Asia, Europe and North America, fireworks competitions are regularly held at a number of places, while in other places they are an integral part of cultural and religious ceremonies and celebrations.
The four primary effects that constitute a fireworks display are; noise, light, smoke, and floating materials. They may be designed to burn with colored flames and sparks including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and silver.
Fireworks are believed to have been invented in ancient China in the 7th century to scare away evil spirits. Today, China is the largest manufacturer and exporter of fireworks in the world.
The word for firework in Japanese is ‘hanabi’, and it means “fire-flower”.
Firework sounds can vary from whistling sounds, hissing noises, but the most common is the big, loud gunshot-like “boom” sound.
The Italian merchant and traveler Marco Polo is believed to have brought fireworks from China to Europe around the year 1295, starting the global spread of this invention.
The first recorded fireworks in England were at the wedding of King Henry VII in 1486.
One legend holds that dreaming about fireworks means that one would like to be the centre of attention and is showing off to others. It also symbolizes enthusiasm and exhilaration.
On New Year’s Eve 2002, the largest chocolate firework was released in Zurich, Switzerland. It measured 3m high and 1.5m in diameter, and contained 60kg of Swiss Cailler chocolate bars.
Though fun and exhilarating for most humans, fireworks are bad news for animals and it’s actually advisable to keep pets like cats and dogs away from its impact.
The biggest occasion for fireworks in the UK is the Guy Fawkes Night (5th November). It is a celebration of the failing of the Gunpowder Plot on 5 November 1605, an attempt to kill King James I at the UK’s House of Parliament.
Queen Elizabeth was so fascinated with fireworks that she created an honorary title, “Fire Master of England” for the individual who created the best fireworks.
Although China is credited with inventing it, it’s Italy that is credited with giving it color.
These bright colors are created by burning different metallic powders within fireworks tubes. For example, calcium produces the color orange, sodium produces yellow, while barium gives off a green hue.
The record for the largest firework display consisted of 66,326 fireworks and was achieved in Portugal in 2006.
The biggest annual fireworks display event in Europe is the International Festival concert held in Edinburgh, Scotland, in which a million fireworks are set off in less than an hour.
At first fireworks were only orange and white. In the Middle Ages new colors were achieved by adding different salts. The hardest color to create is blue.