The 4th of July is when Americans celebrate independence. Learn about the history and how you can celebrate the holiday too!
If you’re an international student currently in the United States, you probably noticed the extra red, white, and blue around you lately. It’s the 4th of July, also known as Independence Day! That means juicy burgers on the grill, red, white, and blue jello and fireworks right when it gets dark outside.
To truly appreciate the holiday, we’ll go over some basic history. Obviously we could go on forever about American history, but to get you celebrating quicker, here is the ISV Magazine version of the 4th of July.
We Told the Big Brother to Quit Pushing Us Around
There was a time the United States was ruled by Great Britain. But we’re only talking 13 colonies. By colonies, we technically mean states, but since we weren’t independent yet these areas are referred to as colonies. These colonies were founded by Great Britain between 1607-1732. The first colony was Jamestown in Virginia. As you can see from the map on the left, it’s such a small area compared to what the U.S. is today. We’re only talking about the states in the dark, pink area.
Great Britain kept raising taxes and kept creating more rules. People were mad, they didn’t want to listen to Great Britain, a country that was across an entire ocean. Technically, colonists began rebelling in 1763 after the French and Indian War. This war stopped France from taking over the British colonies. It was this time when colonies were asked to pay more taxes and it never stopped. In 1775 a group of colonists rebelled against the British, but it wasn’t until July 4, 1776 they declared independence.
The first Congress met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and appointed a committee to write an official document that would tell the British to back off and say, “Hey! We’re an independent country”. It was Thomas Jefferson who wrote the draft document in secret. After some tweaks and edits, the document known as the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776.
Soon came the American Revolution. The 13 colonies joined together to fight the British Empire. The war did not end until 1783 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. It gave the U.S. all the land east of the Mississippi River and south of the Great Lakes. Let’s say, this was a huge shock to Great Britain.
[box size=”large” style=”rounded” icon=”http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/c/cf/America_The_Story_of_Us_cover.png/200px-America_The_Story_of_Us_cover.png&imgrefurl=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/America:_The_Story_of_Us&h=164&w=116&sz=6&tbnid=KDnlqRMufUmi9M&tbnh=0&tbnw=0&prev=/search%3Fq%3DAmerica:%2Bthe%2Bstory%2Bof%2Bus%26tbm%3Disch%26tbo%3Du&zoom=1&q=America:+the+story+of+us&usg=__mRfPtd3ePEAlrwOqiKYN3-G-0pw=&docid=0bcs72Ky8HJumM&sa=X&ei=j_jyT-ikGYaF0QH40IyDCg&ved=0CKABENUX”]If you would like a bigger dose of American history, we recommend watching the series America: The Story of Us. It’s available on Netflix.[/box]
Celebrating Independence Day
There are several ways Independence Day is celebrated in the U.S.
Most families host or attend a picnic where there is a barbecue. The type of food cooked is usually hamburgers, hotdogs, steaks, chicken, ribs and sides include potato salad, pasta salad, watermelon, chips,baked beans, and corn on the cob (just to name a few). Decorations include balloons, streamers, and even clothing and the colors are red, white, and blue to represent the American flag.
Check out this video about the 4th of July Barbecue and how ribs are made!
A parade is when people, usually in costume, walk down the street and are also joined by bands, floats, and large balloons. Parades can be organized for a variety of reasons, usually celebrating something. People walking or riding in the parade usually throw candy to those watching from the sides of the street. If you go to a parade, be care, sometimes people throw the candy a little bit too hard.
[box style=”rounded”]Find a parade near you by visiting www.google.com and search: Fourth of July events in (your state)[/box]
Probably our favorite thing about the 4th of July is Fireworks! Right when it gets dark outside you’ll hear loud bangs and booms. Look to the sky and you’ll see such a beautiful show. You can also buy some cheap fireworks or sparklers at the nearest WalMart. But be careful! You can’t go wrong with sparklers, they are pretty safe.
Fireworks have been used to celebrate Independence Day since 1777, six years before Americans even knew if they could win independence. In 1789 fireworks were used when George Washington was inaugurated as the first U.S. President.
Check out the video below as an example of a fireworks show!
We found this neat chart explaining all the additional facts and figures about celebrating Independence Day.We hope you have a chance to celebrate!
Click image to enlarge