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Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Baby, You're A Firework

Hey, everyone! I hope that you're having a fantastic Wednesday today.

Today is July 4th, and for most countries in the world, it's just a typical, average day. However, if you're American, I want to wish every one of you reading this a Happy 4th of July!

I decided to do a special 4th of July entry for the American audience for a couple of reasons. One, did you know that more Americans read this blog more than any other nationality? Considering that I'm Canadian, I consider this to be a great thing!

(For the record, the top 5 are United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and India.)

So, I wanted to offer some gratitude towards the Americans who have supported me in my writing ventures by doing a special blog entry dedicated to you. I've even done this blog in red and blue to make it even more special (I would have added white as well, but it's hard to see on yellow.)

But secondly, I wanted to choose a topic that seemed to fit with the American holiday. After all, when you ask an American what the 4th of July means to them, I imagine that most of them will have the same answer.


So, I thought that I would use this opportunity to help our American readership celebrate America's 236th birthday by choosing a subject that is not only represents the 4th of July, but represents freedom as well.

Confused yet? Don't worry. It'll all become clear soon enough.

In the meantime, I thought that I would post an appropriate song that befits the day. Have a look at this.

ARTIST: Katy Perry
SONG: Firework
ALBUM: Teenage Dream
DATE RELEASED: October 16, 2010

Katy Perry's “Firework” was the third single from her highly successful “Teenage Dream” album. It was also her third of five consecutive #1 hits from the same album. It also happens to be my favourite song of hers that she has ever done. The song itself is catchy, and it's got a great beat.

The video, however, is a masterpiece, and it certainly illustrates the topic that I want to discuss.

Today's blog subject is about the two F's associated with the 4th of July. Fireworks and Freedom.

As most of you know, fireworks are quite symbolic with the 4th of July. They rank right up there with stars, stripes, and barbecued hamburgers. Certainly, fireworks are a huge deal up here in Canada as well, especially on holidays like Canada Day which was just three days ago.

I can remember as a child going to the waterfront every July 1st. At the time, we had a summer festival that always ended with a humongous fireworks display. Watching the bursts of light streaking across the sky in shades of red, blue, white, green, gold, and purple always left me with such a high. Okay, so I had to watch the fireworks displays with my fingers lodged in my ears because the loud pops and bangs were a little too loud, but still, the visual stimulation was fantastic.

I imagine that for Americans today, they get those same feelings as they watch the annual fireworks display light up the sky.

But do you know how fireworks came to be invented? Well, nobody really knows when the first instance of fireworks being used came to be, but it's estimated that the practice of lighting fireworks first began around the 10th century, in the country of China. The Chinese reportedly designed several varieties of fireworks using different effects and colours. During the Song Dynasty, it wasn't uncommon to see the people of China buying fireworks from market vendors, and as early as 1110, large fireworks displays were set off. It would take about another hundred years before the fireworks would be launched into the air (a record dating back to the year 1264 states that a rocket-propelled firework went off near the Emperess Dowager Gong Sheng, which startled her during a feast held in her honour).

By the mid-17th century, Chinese fireworks were gained popularity with the development of “chinoiserie”, and in 1758, Jesuit missionary Pierre Nicolas le Cheron d'Incarville took notice. He was living in Beijing at the time, and he was so impressed by the technology behind Chinese fireworks that he ended up writing a piece on the methods and composition behind making them. He sent it into the Paris Academy of Sciences which revealed and published the account five years later. The writings were translated in 1765, which added fuel to the fire, so to speak. Within a matter of time, fireworks became immensely popular.

So, now you know how fireworks were invented and became popular. But, what does the American Independence Day have to do with them?

Well, apparently some of America's earliest settlers used fireworks and black ash to celebrate important occasions long before the American Revolutionary War. Most of you know that the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, and the first celebration of America's Independence day was held a year later in 1777. Fireworks were a part of that celebration, as well as in 1789, with the inauguration of George Washington.

So, it's easy to see why so many people see fireworks as being a symbol of freedom. After all, they were lit on the very day that the United States of America became an independent nation, free from the rule of other countries. I'm not American, but it's a beautiful that I'm sure the residents of my country felt back in 1867.

TRIVIA: Do you want to know the place that reportedly uses the most fireworks? Apparently, it's the Walt Disney Company! Given the elaborate fireworks displays held at Anaheim's Disneyland and Orlando's Walt Disney World, it's easy to see why.

So, that's your history lesson on fireworks for today.

Now, you're probably wondering why I posted the Katy Perry video up above. The reason why I did was because it's the perfect example of illustrating the concept of freedom.

That is, the freedom of being yourself.

The whole concept of the video is coming to terms with who you are, accepting your insecurities, and facing your fears in order to become the person you know you can be. In the course of the video, you see several unfortunate situations. You see two children caught in a domestic dispute between their parents. There's a girl who is battling cancer and has lost all of her hair. You have a teenage boy at a party who seems to be feeling alone. There's a pool party where a girl is encouraging someone else to strip down and jump in, but she's self-conscious about how she looks. And there's a boy who is being cornered by a group of thugs, and things look grim.

But somehow, the people in the video seem to find who they are, and as a result, they let their colours burst in the form of shiny, sparkly fireworks. And, once that happens, things start to get better. The boy finds the courage to tell his fighting parents to knock it off. The girl with cancer finds the strength to face the world. The self-conscious girl dives right into new self-confidence. The teenage boy at the club finds true love. Even the boy in the alleyway manages to escape injury through the power of magic. At the end, there's a huge celebration filled with thousands of newly-inspired teenagers who have now found a sense of inner freedom by breaking free of the negativity and self-consciousness that they carried with them for so long.

In that sense, the video does a great job linking big, bold, and bright fireworks in the sky to finding the freedom within yourself to be the person that you want to be. Just as fireworks are linked to being a symbol to a country's independence, I think that fireworks can also be linked to a feeling of personal independence as well, at least, that's the image that the Katy Perry video presents.

When you stop and think of it in both of those senses, fireworks really do represent the value of freedom. Not just in the United States, but for all countries. Whether it's the freedom of being an independent nation, or freedom from negative stereotypes holding you down...I think that freedom should be celebrated, don't you?

I think that's why I enjoy fireworks displays, even if the noise bugs me. They illustrate something so beautiful and pure, and something that lies dormant inside of us, just waiting to come out.

Happy Independence Day, America.

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