(CNN) — Across the United States, on July 4, adults dressed in red, white and blue T-shirts barbecue, children play and patriotic-themed commercials fill TV and radio stations.
It is independence day.
If you grew up elsewhere and think American customs are a bit strange, here’s what you need to know about this important holiday.
Why is the Fourth of July celebrated?
On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress, two days after a vote on whether to secede from the United Kingdom. The Declaration, drafted by Thomas Jefferson (who eventually became president and who also died on the 4th of July), is basically America’s birth certificate, declaring America independent from British power.
Despite the fact that these founding fathers signed the document in the 1700s, Independence Day did not officially become a public holiday until 1870, and it became a federal payday in 1941.
So you can think of the 4th of July as a giant nationwide birthday party for which we use giant candles that explode violently in the sky.
Why the phrase ‘land of the free, home of the brave’?
This line comes from the national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which was written by Francis Scott Key. If you listen to the lyrics carefully, you will notice that the song recounts the events of the bombing of Fort McHenry in 1814.
In 1931, it was named the national anthem. Don’t worry, you don’t have to memorize the whole thing – most hum it.
Why so many hot dogs?
The hot dogs they became extremely popular in the United States in the late 1800s. These bad boys are now a staple at any 4th of July cookout. Americans consumed at least 150 million hot dogs on July 4 of last year, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council.
Why the fireworks?
Fireworks were initially brought to the US by Italian immigrants who settled here in the late 1800s. Now, the United States consumes fireworks in massive quantities in honor of this holiday, importing more than 250 million pounds of fireworks in 2017, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association. This 2021 there are reports that fireworks will be in short supply.
But fireworks actually have a much deeper history than you might think. Our history of blowing things up in celebration dates back to 1777, a year after the declaration of independence. That year, a celebration in Philadelphia included 13 fireworks in the Commons in honor of the 13 colonies.
How else do they celebrate in America?
It would be easier to count the ways we don’t celebrate. Grills, picnics, festivals, parades – there are events held across the country in his honor.
In Atlanta, people make room for all that food by running the AJC Peachtree Road Race, the world’s largest 10K. And on New York’s Coney Island, Nathan’s Hot Dog Food Contest is practically its own holiday.
I’m in The United States. Where can I get in on the fun?
There are many ways to celebrate the 4th of July, be it a traditional parade or a rarer form of celebration. A lot of small parades are run by local Fire Departments and schools, so check out upcoming events. Many fireworks shows are organized in downtown areas; Follow the long line of cars moving slowly in that direction.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism