America’s Independence Day is one of the country’s most widely celebrated holidays. Otherwise known as the 4th of July, the holiday commemorates what is arguably the most important day in the nation’s history.
Although many incorrectly believe that July 4th marks either the start of the American revolution or the day America won its independence from Britain, neither prove to be true.
History of the United States’ Independence Day
In reality, it was July 2nd that America passed its historic vote choosing to separate itself from the crown and become the United States of America. It wasn’t until two days later, however, that the final edits were made to the Declaration of Independence and the nation’s founding fathers signed it. Because the July 4th, 1776 is the date that appears on the document, it’s the one that was chosen for modern-day celebrations.
For around ten to twenty years after that historic day, the country was in too much turmoil to appropriately recognize its Independence Day much less widely celebrate it. It wasn’t until the mid-1800s that the nation’s collective identity grew enough to begin recognizing the 4th of July as an occasion worth celebrating.
Finally, in 1870, Congress passed a bill officially recognizing it as a public holiday. Each year since Americans have full-heartedly and enthusiastically celebrated the date as America’s birthday.
Barbecues and Cookouts
Nothing says “Happy 4th” quite like a hotdog sizzling on the grill and a cold beer in hand. Most commonly, family celebrations and holiday parties feature plenty of grilled meats served with cold side dishes like potato salad, coleslaw, fruit, and chips.
Often, these events are pitch-ins, in which attendees bring dishes to contribute to a large, varied spread. If you want to host a cookout like a true patriot, you’ll want to bring along an icebox packed with beer, as the 4th of July has become something of a drinking holiday for most Americans.
During the 4th of July, local communities congregate around whatever body of water is closest, whether it be a beach, a pool, or a lake. Unsurprisingly, most lakes have more boats floating on their waters on the 4th of July than any other day of the year. Other water-based activities like jet skiing, inner-tubing, and paddle boarding are also common.
If you find yourself in the US during Independence Day, consider packing a lunch, stocking the icebox, and renting a pontoon boat. Often, lakeside communities will even put on 4th of July boat parades or waterside fireworks shows.
Whether you’re in New York City or a small town in Mississippi, there’s guaranteed to be an Independence Day parade. These events vary greatly from one town to the next, but they each have many of the same staples: patriotic floats, marching bands, animals, balloons, free candy, and plenty of American flags.
Attending a local parade is generally a great way to get a taste of the local culture. Often, a municipality’s parade is followed by an Independence Day festival, where you can likely buy local crafts and purchase hot dogs, hamburgers, or other traditional cookout foods.
First intended as a morale booster for Americans during the Revolutionary War, fireworks have been an Independence Day staple for hundreds of years. Now, annual displays have grown in complexity and volume. Each year, the American Pyrotechnics Association estimates an approximate 16,000 fireworks displays claim the nation’s night sky on the 4th of July alone.
With so many shows across the nation, it’s easy to find one nearby—they’re truthfully unavoidable. Even in small rural communities, families, and groups of friends gather to set off their own displays.
If you’re interested in lighting up the sky yourself, just be sure to check the local rules and regulations. While fireworks are generally permitted in most suburbs and towns, there are often restrictions on specific types and the timeframes at which you can set them off.