How to Celebrate July 4th: United States Independence Day
The 4th of July Is America's Birthday!
On July 4th 1776, what was then merely thirteen colonies (but would later become the United States of America as we know it today) asserted their will and determination to be separated from Great Britain. The historic Declaration of Independence was formally adopted on that day.
Today, we celebrate independence day annually on July 4th. Everyone celebrates in their own way, but I've described some of the most popular 4th of July activities below.
How Do Americans Celebrate Independence Day?
- Flying the U.S. Flag
- Outdoor Games
Independence Day Background and History
Notable acts of defiance such as the Boston Tea Party preceded what is now commonly called Independence Day. The colonists did not wish to be taxed by the "mother country" of Britain without having representation in parliament.
Most of the people crossing the Atlantic left their homes seeking a better life with more freedom. Many knew that it was a one-way journey, and most of the early colonists knew that they would never see their home countries again.
They were a spunky and brave lot, and it is somewhat understandable that they wished to make their laws of government and set about determining their fate after the trials and tribulations that made them want to cross the Atlantic in the first place.
Today, centuries later, we people who call the United States our home celebrate Independence Day with zest and enthusiasm which would undoubtedly have gladdened those drafters of the Declaration of Independence and made them proud.
1. Flying the Flag
These symbols of our country are seen in abundance on the Fourth of July.
U.S. flags are attached to houses, are flown on flagpoles, are attached to trees such as in the first photo, and smaller versions are stuck into the ground or in flower pots as people wish to show their patriotism on that particular day.
Many government buildings, as well as businesses and private individuals, fly the U.S. flag year round.
Flags are also handheld and waved in the many parades that take place on this memorable day.
Politicians often wear U.S. flag pins on their lapels almost year round now. Pins representing the U.S. flag are also worn as adornments on clothing by others, especially on Independence Day.
Speaking of clothing lots of red, white and blue in all patterns including those symbolizing the flag are worn by many people on the 4th of July.
Evolution of The U.S. Flag
June 14, 1777, was the first official U.S. Flag and changes have been made over the years concerning how many stars are on it, each one representing a State of our Union. From 13 stars representing the 13 colonies to now, the flag has been altered twenty-six times to our current total of 50 states being represented.
The 50 five-pointed white stars are on a bed of blue in the upper left-hand corner of the flag with the top red horizontal stripe alternating with the white lines and ending in the red.
The seven red and six white stripes have remained the same throughout all of this time, and the stripes represent the original thirteen colonies of the New World.
Since the 4th of July happens to be in the summertime, often the first thing that people wish to do to celebrate this special day is to plan a picnic with family members and friends.
When I was growing up in the 1950s, we often had relatives join our family for outside picnics. My dad was generally in charge of the grilling of hotdogs, bratwurst, and hamburgers.
My mother and grandmother would have made and served the other picnic fare such as homemade potato salad, their home canned pickles and pickled peaches, fresh corn on the cob and other goodies. Of course, there were the buns, ketchup, mustard, and other typical accompaniments.
Some of the relatives would also add to the assortment of food served on that day.
Generally, we ended our feast with cutting into giant watermelons. After everyone had a piece, we kids enjoyed a game of seeing who could spit the watermelon seeds the furthest. Ha!
We lived in the country on large lots so the seeds would naturally compost. The lawns were thick enough that they never got a chance to sprout and grow.
There was plenty of garden space for that. My grandfather had several huge gardens, and we ate year round from his gardening efforts and the canning and preserving of food that my mother and grandmother did. Together they most often worked together on those projects while visiting and keeping each other company.
We benefited from their seasonal efforts year round.
3. Outdoor Games
Since the 4th of July was a reason for the gathering together of our extended family members as it is for many people, we would often play some outdoor games such as badminton, crochet and even some baseball in the mowed field adjacent to our home.
There was lots of laughter, visiting with one another and some cheering when one team would be declared a winner.
I am sure that many other types of games are played outdoors on the 4th of July. The weather makes it pleasant for the playing of tennis, golf, and even water sports.
For people living near the coast, beaches are a big lure for partying on Independence Day as well as other days of the year. Every family undoubtedly has its traditions and favorite ways to spend the day.
4. 4th of July Parades
What would the day be without a celebratory parade?
In towns and cities all across our fair land, there are parades with marching bands and participants dressed in colorful costumes on foot or floats or vehicles of every sort imaginable.
From fire trucks to tractors, vintage cars to wagons, bicycles to horses, this is a day in which people line up along the parade routes ahead of time to set up their lawn chairs and enjoy the drama that is about to unfold before their eyes and ears.
Smiles adorn faces and photos which are taken freeze that moment in time for later viewing and enjoyment.
And then there are the fireworks!
Whatever traditions and festivities are enjoyed during the day, the nights would not be complete without the bombastic fireworks displays presented in places all across the United States of America on this celebratory day.
While other countries also use fireworks to celebrate and bring in the New Year as well as other notable events each year, we get a presentation of fireworks displays mid-year on America's birthday in towns and cities all across our country.
The selling of firecrackers is big business. Some places like the Walt Disney resorts, showcase pyrotechnic events each night. But for most of us who live in the U.S., the 4th of July and New Year's Eve are the most significant nights to watch and enjoy fireworks.
As a child, I have fond memories of waving some lit sparklers in the night air. The effects reminded me of the fireflies that would also light up the night air with their transient lights. The sparklers, of course, were more intense but also lasted a brief time.
Fireworks set off over the lakes of Wisconsin with their reflections sparkling in the darkened waters below are a special memory of mine.
Of course, no matter where the skies are lit up by wonderful displays of firecrackers with patriotic music being played as is common in larger city displays it is a sight to behold and an experience to be remembered.
Celebrating the 4th of July
For people unfamiliar with how people in the United States celebrate Independence Day, you now have some idea. Of course, in addition to the traditional parades, picnics, and fireworks displays, there are the many patriotic songs that are heard.
If you celebrate the 4th of July, aka Independence Day in America, and I have not mentioned your particular custom, please mention it in the comment section below.
The cute Shih Tzu dogs below belong to my first cousin and his wife. She grooms and shows her dogs, and they have won many awards. Aren't they cute?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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© 2012 Peggy Woods