The 4th of July is a holiday all Americans look forward to celebrating, but beyond that firework spectaculars, some Americans still forget why we celebrate this holiday every year.
As many people know, July 4th, or Independence Day, is the celebration of the United States’ independence from Great Britain after the signing of the Declaration of Independence by our founding fathers on July 4, 1776.
What many people may not know, however, that Congress actually voted in favor of independence from Great British two days prior on July 2 and John Adams, our 2nd U.S. President, actually considered that to be Independence Day and would “reportedly turn down invitations to appear at July 4th events in protest,” according to history.com.
The first known “4th of July” type of celebrations occurred during the first few days after the Declaration of Independence was signed where of the celebrations turned into towns holding mock funerals for King George III where his “death” per se at these mock funerals stood for the “end of monarchy and tyranny and the rebirth of liberty,” according to britannica.com.
The first July 4th celebrations by the new Americans consisted of parades and toasted ceremonies to celebrate the birth of a new nation. Independence Day celebrations were also used as a way for political leaders to directly address the constituents, having the two major parties at the time, the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans, hold separate celebrations in a lot of major cities across the United States. However this would eventually become less common during the late 20th century.
In 1781, five years after the Declaration of Independence was signed, Massachusetts became the first state in the Union to recognize July 4 as a national holiday. It wouldn’t be under almost an entire century later that the United States Government, in 1870, officially declared July 4 a federal holiday and it wouldn’t be until 1941 where it would be recognized as a paid holiday for federal workers.
Fireworks are a staple of Independence Day celebrations, you can’t go to a 4th of July celebration without them for the most part, and they actually have been used since the very beginning. On the one year anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, ships set off cannons to fire a 13-gun salute in honor of the 13 colonies at the time. Also, the Sons of Liberty that same day set off fireworks in Boston, Mass.. Fireworks are in the DNA of Independence Day celebrations.
So when you’re looking up at the fireworks during whatever celebration you go to, remember where it comes from.