The Fourth of July celebrates the birth of America, and for 2016, the Fourth of July falls on a Monday. This gives many a three-day weekend that will culminate with a grandiose fireworks display.
The Fourth of July is also referred to as Independence Day and is a federal holiday. Federal holidays mean that government buildings, offices, and services will be closed. There is no mail delivery, jury duty, or court sessions on the Fourth of July. The Fourth of July has been a paid holiday for federal employees since 1938.
The Fourth of July is America’s official birthday, and it marks the time when, on July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress (the delegate convention for the Thirteen Colonies that routinely met in Philadelphia Pennsylvania at Independence Hall) adopted the Declaration of Independence. While many people celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July, it wasn’t until August 2, 1776, that the Declaration was signed. You can learn more about the history of the Fourth of July in the video below.
— Josh Rogers (@joshdrogers) June 22, 2016
The first Fourth of July celebration took place on July 4, 1777. Interestingly, the celebration was quite similar to our modern-day festivities. The Fourth of July has been a time when people celebrate with gunfire, fireworks, feasting and eating grilled meats, parades, and displays of patriotic pride. The Fourth of July is also a time when we remember and honor not only the 50 states in the Union but living veterans and the veterans we have lost over the years. Unlike Veterans’ Day, which is a somber time of remembrance, the Fourth of July is a fun, festive holiday for many people nationwide
The PBS site A Capitol Fourth described the first Fourth of July celebration as follows.
“On July 8, 1776, the first public readings of the Declaration were held in Philadelphia’s Independence Square to the ringing of bells and band music. One year later, on July 4, 1777, Philadelphia marked Independence Day by adjourning Congress and celebrating with bonfires, bells and fireworks.
“The custom eventually spread to other towns, both large and small, where the day was marked with processions, oratory, picnics, contests, games, military displays and fireworks. Observations throughout the nation became even more common at the end of the War of 1812 with Great Britain.
“In June of 1826, Thomas Jefferson sent a letter to Roger C. Weightman, declining an invitation to come to Washington, D.C. to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. It was the last letter that Jefferson, who was gravely ill, ever wrote.”
— US National Archives (@USNatArchives) June 24, 2016
BREAKING: King George III calls signing of Declaration Of Independence “publicity stunt”. pic.twitter.com/g0Cszh8Zqn
— Rocky Mountain Mike (@RockyMntnMike) June 23, 2016
The Library of Congress has a listing of important dates and documents regarding the Fourth of July and the Declaration of Independence, including its original drafting, debates, and adoption, as well as the final version that was adopted, drafted, and written in beautiful script before being signed.
There are many ways that people celebrate the Fourth of July and America’s freedom. Some people travel long distances in order to spend time with friends and family, making road safety a priority during the holiday. As the Fourth of July takes place during summer months, many people spend time at the beach or enjoy water-based activities. Barbecues and cookouts are the norm, and every year in Coney Island, New York, the Nathans Famous hot dog eating contest is held. You can find out more about this event, which is considered one of the most important in the competitive eating sporting world, at the official site: Nathan’s 2016 Hot Dog Eating Contest.
Others choose to wear patriotic outfits and accessories such as hats, glasses, bandanas, and beads, and there are many Fourth of July parades that take place nationwide. Fireworks are always a popular end to the Fourth of July, and New York hosts the Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks display, and the Capitol Fourth fireworks display takes place in Washington, D.C. Both events air on television networks.
How will you celebrate the Fourth of July in 2016?
[Image via Nguyen Kim Thien/Shutterstock]