What’s the story behind the 4th of July?

Travel July 3, 2018

If you’ve ever been in the USA on July 4th, you might have noticed a crazy amount of red, white and blue all around you! That’s because July 4th is America’s Independence Day, and the country goes all out to celebrate it. If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about the 4th of July, read on!


The history of the 4th of July

It all started back in 1776, when the USA was simply known as “The Thirteen Colonies”. In a push to become a separate country and break with British rule, founding father Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence. You might have heard the famous excerpt:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The Declaration was signed on July 4th, 1776, and in 1870, it was declared a federal holiday. Red, white and blue are the traditional holiday colours as those are the colours of the American flag!

How is the 4th of July celebrated?

Now on to the fun stuff… the 4th of July celebrations! Think of all the American stereotypes you’ve seen in movies, and that’s basically the 4th of July. There are baseball games, barbecues, parades, picnics and, of course, fireworks! Many Americans are given the day off of work on the 4th of July, so lots of people head to the beaches or the lakes to kick off some summer vacation time. A typical 4th of July might include a family picnic or barbecue (fried chicken, barbecued ribs, potato salad and watermelon are musts!) followed by gathering together at a local park or beach to watch the town fireworks. If it rains, you can always settle in at home with your picnic foods and watch Will Smith fight aliens in Independence Day – it’s guaranteed to be on TV!


Best places to celebrate 4th of July in the USA

While you’ll have fun no matter where you are in the USA on Independence Day, there are several cities that are especially famous for good fireworks! Here are a couple of places where you’re guaranteed an awesome fireworks display:

  • New York – The Macy’s 4th of July Firework Show is legendary. The fireworks are launched from a boat on the East River, so there are plenty of locations in Manhattan where you can see them from the rooftops or even from street level. The fireworks explode three times higher than the Statue of Liberty!
  • Washington, D.C. – Every year, the nation’s capital hosts “A Capitol Fourth” from the lawn of the U.S. Capitol building. It’s free and open to everyone, so all you have to do is show up, throw down a blanket, and you’re done! (And don’t forget your picnic basket!) You’ll hear famous musicians, including an orchestra playing Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture to the backdrop of the incredible fireworks that light up the sky between the Capitol and the Washington Monument.
  • San Francisco – If you’ll be spending the holiday on the West Coast, San Francisco is pretty unbeatable when it comes to the 4th of July. Head to Fisherman’s Wharf, where you can watch the fireworks over San Francisco Bay. You can even splurge on a fireworks cruise and really make sure there’s nothing blocking your view!
  • San Diego – This one’s just for fun… it’s impossible to talk about the 4th of July without mentioning the fiasco that went down in San Diego in 2012, when ALL of their fireworks went off simultaneously. The end result was a 30-second sonic boom of a blast that should have lasted almost 20 minutes!


So, if you’re looking for a truly authentic American experience, there’s nothing better than the 4th of July. Food, family and fireworks – what’s not to love?

Take me to the USA!

By Leah Ganse

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