“She felt as though a firework exploded through her blood.”
“Her orgasm hit like a Roman Candle.”
“Desire rocketed through her, heating her blood…”
Yeah, you get it. Every bad simile you can imagine about sex and the big O relies on fireworks. So, why fireworks? And what sparked our love affair with them?
Put briefly, it was a Chinese thing. To celebrate the lunar New Year, they gathered bamboo and lit fires. The bamboo cracked, popped loudly, and burst. That popping became as associated with Chinese celebration as champagne is to European celebrations. Gradually, people believed the popping sound drove away evil spirits. Let’s face it, starting a new year without evil spirits has to be a good thing.
Someone must have thought, “the louder the better.”
They discovered that potassium nitrate, carbon, and sulfur burned nosier and brighter. If the mixture was right, it could fire arrows or even cannonballs. Watch out, evil spirits, gunpowder’s gonna get you.
Gunpowder and fireworks spread around the world. Knights in armor became a thing of the past as their armor couldn’t stand against gunpowder propelled projectiles. Of course people still used fireworks in their celebrations.
Here in the UK, we have Bonfire Night on 5th November to celebrate the foiling of a 1605 attempt to blow up King James and put his catholic daughter Princess Elizabeth on the throne. As an aside, she later went off and married the King of Bohemia, but he only ruled for one season. Sometimes, she’s called the Winter Queen. Anyway, back to the plotters. Robert Catesby and more famously, Guy Fawkes, secreted 36 barrels of gunpowder beneath the House of Parliament. They failed when someone grassed them up. We burn effigies of Guy Fawkes on our bonfires—although this year in Edenbridge, they burned an effigy of Sepp Blatter, the ubiquitous head of FIFA.
We still celebrate the New Year with fireworks, and this year I’ll be letting mine off on the stroke of midnight. A new year without evil spirits and all that.
So, back to those appalling synonyms and metaphors. Why fireworks. I suppose it’s because they’re both beautiful and explosive, just like a powerful orgasm.