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How to Celebrate July 4th: United States Independence Day

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

Flying of the U.S. Flag

Flying of the U.S. Flag

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?

  1. Flying the U.S. Flag
  2. Picnics
  3. Outdoor Games
  4. Parades
  5. Fireworks

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.

Waving U.S. flags

Waving U.S. flags

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.

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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.



2. Picnics

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.

Old family photo of some of our relatives getting ready to enjoy a picnic outdoors.

Old family photo of some of our relatives getting ready to enjoy a picnic outdoors.

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.

Playing Croquet

Playing Croquet

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.

Playing at the beach

Playing at the beach

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.

5. Fireworks

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.

© 2012 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 09, 2018:

Hi Patricia,

It sounds like you had lots of fun with this holiday when you were young and surrounded by your cousins. Nice to be able to look back at those times of days gone by. Although we do have neighbors setting off fireworks in our subdivision which is outside of the city limits (no fireworks except for city sanctioned ones are allowed inside the city limits) generally we view them on television these days.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on July 09, 2018:

You covered this amazing holiday and all that it encompasses so well, Peggy. It is a holiday that we celebrated in a special way every year when I was growing up in Virginia. Usually cousins from New Jersey and Richmond came for several weeks each summer and they helped us celebrate too. I still love love the fireworks. Hoping all is good with you and your hubby. Angels are on the way to you this morning s

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 13, 2017:

Hi Rajan,

Nice to know that while different, we also share commonalities with respect to celebrations in countries wide spread all across our planet. Except for many flags adorning our homes during the 4th of July, it is during the Christmas season that numerous homes are festively lighted and people make night drives to see them. That is fun. Some neighborhoods really excel in having most of the home owners participate in outdoor lighting exhibits. People drive from distant points just to get to see those neighborhoods.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on July 12, 2017:

I can relate to so many common things that we do as well. I can remember children & adults would load into trucks and enjoy a long long ride at night to feast on the brilliant lighted homes, buildings, markets and the festive atmosphere on the streets. It was a memorable time.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 02, 2016:

Hi Robert,

Glad you enjoyed this hub. We fly our flag all of the time not just on special occasions.

Robert Sacchi on June 01, 2016:

Fun article. Ironic you have a picture of the RAF demonstration team, The Red Arrows.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 12, 2015:

Hi poetryman6969,

You are not alone in your thinking! Ha!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 12, 2015:

Hi Au fait,

Amazing but true that this next Independence Day celebration is right around the corner. It is hot, hot, hot! in Houston also with the humidity factored in to the equation. Have some shrubbery to trim outside but just not in the mood. Someday! :) Thanks for the share.

poetryman6969 on June 11, 2015:

Nothing says freedom like burned meat! I love a good, colorful air show as well.

C E Clark from North Texas on June 10, 2015:

It won't be long before the 4th of July will be here again. Thought I would share this so that people could incorporate some of the great ideas you have here into their celebrations. Who doesn't love a cookout or a parade, or both? And who would want to miss the fireworks?

These ideas might be especially helpful to new Americans who have only recently been naturalized or who have recently arrived and are in the process of becoming citizens.

An excellent article and as I said, will share with followers.

Too hot to think up here Peggy. 99 degrees here right now.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 10, 2015:

Hi louise-barraco,

Well here is to your bombastic celebrations on your own birthday up in Canada as well as the timing of the birth of our country in the U.S. :))

Louise Barraco from Ontario on May 10, 2015:

I am Canadian but am born on Independence Day so I celebrate just like you with family ,friends,food,cake and fireworks it's the Fourth of July after all you always need fireworks

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 04, 2014:

Hi Peg,

Glad you liked some of the patriotic songs in this post and that old family photo that I had taken when I was probably 10 or 11 years old with my Brownie camera. Happy July 4th! :)

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on July 04, 2014:

What a gorgeous collection of patriotic photos and videos to display on this 4th of July. I loved the old picnic photo of you and your family. Boy, that brings back some great times from the past.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 04, 2014:

Hi Jackie,

Happy Independence Day to you also. I agree that we should be very grateful to be able to live here with the freedoms that we enjoy. :)

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on July 04, 2014:

Great tribute and fun photos. The 4th is one day we should be so thankful for and hope we can celebrate many more! ^

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 04, 2014:

Hi Faith,

So glad you enjoyed what was written as well as the photos. Thanks for the shares and Happy 4th of July to you!

Faith Reaper from southern USA on July 04, 2014:

Awesome and beautiful hub, Peggy! What a most wonderful tribute here. I really love all of your great photos and music choices, especially your old family photo and that one of the Shih Tzu.

This should be HOTD! Voted UP ++++ and sharing everywhere

Happy Fourth!!!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 03, 2014:

Hi Rebecca,

That old family photo goes back to the 1950s! Glad you liked it. Happy 4th of July tomorrow! :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 03, 2014:

Hi ChitrangadaSharan,

Very happy that you liked this and can now understand better what your son will be experiencing while in the U.S. on that celebratory day. Thanks for the share and tweet. :)

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on July 03, 2014:

Lovely, patriotic hub. It is a good read for today and tomorrow reminding us of our brave roots. Love that old photo of your family picnic!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on July 03, 2014:

Thank you for sharing such an amazing and informative hub!