Everyone knows July 4 is Independence Day in the United States of America.
You may know that July 4 celebrates the day the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress, but you may not know about all the traditions and celebrations that take place on the Fourth of July.
You may not realize that July 4 is celebrating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and not the actual separation from Great Britain. The legal separation from the red & whites from across the pond actually occurred two days earlier on July 2, 1776.
A year after the Declaration was adopted, how was the United States going to celebrate its first anniversary as an established country? And how has celebrating Independence Day changed since?
Surprisingly, the 1777 celebration in the capital city of Philadelphia was very similar to today’s celebrations. The Continental Congress had an official dinner with toasts and speeches. There were 13-gun salutes to honor the 13 states, music, parades and fireworks. Red, white, and blue bunting was prevalent everywhere.
Here are how some other July 4s were celebrated & some of the 4th of July customs came about:
- 1778 – George Washington, a general at the time, gave his troops a double ration of rum and had them perform an artillery salute.
- 1779 – With the 4th being a Sunday, Independence Day was celebrated on Monday the 5th.
- 1785 – The longest continuous Independence Day celebration is held for the first time in Bristol, Rhode Island. Still going strong today.
- 1870 – Independence Day is made a holiday for federal employees by the U.S. Congress.
- 1916 – Legend has it that Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, New York City started as a way to settle a dispute among four immigrants debating who was the most patriotic.
- 1970 – The annual 10K Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, Georgia is held for the first time on July 4. Make sure you have your running shoes.
- 1976 – The Macy’s fireworks display in New York City is televised nationally. It has been on NBC nationwide every year since.
What special Fourth of July traditions does your family and friends have?