On the 4th of July, the country celebrates its Independence Day.
All across the country, Americans enjoy time off from work for the holiday.
On these days off, people like to spend time with friends and family doing a variety of activities. Learning about the 4th of July also provides a great insight into American culture.
Let’s take a closer look at this holiday and some of its customs:
Back in 1776, there was no such thing as the United States. There were thirteen colonies at the time, and they were still a part of the British empire. Conflict began with England, which led the colonies to convene a Continental Congress. They met in the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall) in June. A representative from Virginia – Richard Henry Lee – presented a resolution to the congress with these words:
“Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”
Shortly thereafter, Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence. After discussion, some minor changes were made. In the afternoon of July 4, 1776, the Declaration was officially adopted. With that, the country declared its independence from England. You can still see an original copy of the famous document in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Nearly 100 years later in 1870, the 4th of July was made a federal holiday.
Celebrations for Independence Day go on all over the country. As the holiday falls in the summer months, events usually take place outdoors. On this day, you can expect to see a lot of red, white and blue – the colors of the American flag. People like to decorate their homes and dress in the colors.
In many cities and towns there is a 4th of July parade in the morning. Some of the biggest and most famous parades in the country include D.C., Philadelphia, and Alameda (California). In the parades, you can see floats and marching bands. Watch highlights from the parade in D.C. from last year to see what it’s like:
You’ll hear plenty of patriotic songs on the 4th of July. Some of the most common are: “The Star Spangled Banner” (which is also the national anthem), “God Bless America,” and “America the Beautiful.” Get ready to sing along by watching this video and learning the lyrics for the national anthem:
As it’s a long holiday in the summer, many people like to attend a family reunion or a party. These are often held in a park or at somebody’s home. It’s very popular to barbecue at a 4th of July gathering. Common foods that you’ll see include: hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, and corn on the cob. Children drink juice or soda, while many adults enjoy a few beers or cocktails.
Another popular thing to do on the 4th is attend a sporting event or a concert. Many baseball teams have a game on the holiday, and there are usually fireworks displays at the end of the game. Speaking of fireworks, they are a huge part of the Independence Day celebrations. In some states, you can buy smaller fireworks to use on your own – just be careful! A better idea is to attend one of the many big fireworks displays that go on all across the country. The biggest in the country is definitely in New York, where they use over 50,000 effects. The show is viewed by about 3 million people every year. See for yourself in this short video taken last year:
As you can see, there’s lots going on for the 4th of July. This holiday is an important part of American tradition and culture, and it’s one of the most exciting times of the year. Does your country have an Independence Day? How do people celebrate it? We’d love to hear from you, so leave a comment below!