Depending on how you look at it, the Fourth of July is either the unofficial start of summer or a sign that summer is halfway through. Regardless, the Fourth of July is one of the biggest summer holidays. Filled with barbecues, family, picnics, and let’s not forget fireworks, this summer celebration is something a lot of people look forward to.
Since 1941, Independence Day, or known by its common name the Fourth of July, has been a federal holiday.
But how many of us really know the history behind the holiday? Here’s the condensed version of why we celebrate the Fourth of July.
In 1607, the first colony was established in Jamestown, Virginia. Many of these colonists came from Great Britain, with others from various parts of Europe. Colonization continued during the 17th and 18th centuries. There were about 2.5 million people living in the colonies by 1775.
When the king started taxing many essential goods, the colonists decided they had enough. The Boston Tea Party and Boston Massacre were just some of the events that escalated tensions between the colonists and Great Britain. And the road to independence started.
On July 2, 1776, after years of fighting, the Continental Congress voted for independence. On July 4, 1776, the delegates from all 13 colonies adopted the historic draft of the Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson. Since that historic day, the United States has been a country of independence.
The history of Independence Day celebrations dates back to the times before the Revolutionary War.
The colonists would always celebrate the king’s birthday. These festivities included bonfires, processions, and speeches. These were very similar to today’s parades, fireworks, and picnics.
When the colonists began fighting for their independence during the summer of 1776, the bonfires and professions turned into mock funerals for the king. Once independence was won, true festivities began, as the Continental Congress was still dealing with the issues of the war. Canons would fire. Bonfires would be held. The reading of the Declaration of Independence would occur in public squares.
Today, you will find festivities all over the United States on July 4 and even on the weekend before. Some places have the traditional firing of cannons and reading of the Declaration of Independence. And some places have parades and concerts by famous stars.
However it is celebrated, it is important to remember why we are celebrating and to honor those who fought so hard for our freedom.