Why Do We Celebrate the Fourth of July?
The Fourth of July plays a pivotal role in the history and independence of our nation. In this blog, we explore the origins of July 4th, its significance, and offer some celebration ideas!
You’ve seen the decorations in your local drug store since April: cute little characters holding flags, tea towels with firework outlines, and patriotic welcome signs.
You’re sporting the red, white, and blue Mason jar foot mat on your front porch, but why? While this time of year brings swimming, travel, and even our Summer Camp, it’s also a time to celebrate a pivotal holiday: Independence Day, aka July 4th! In this blog post, we will discuss how the Fourth of July came to be a holiday, as well as some ways to celebrate!
What is the Fourth of July About?
Yes, it’s a great opportunity to sport your cute flag leggings and t-shirt, but what is the history behind this national holiday?
While the full history of the fight for independence is lengthy (remember the Boston Tea Party?), there are some key points:
- Great Britain's attempts to gain revenue by taxing the colonies with programs such as the Stamp Act of 1765 and Tea Act of 1773 were strongly protested by the colonists. This, along with their lack of representation in Parliament and unequal British rights, led to conflict.
- The Revolutionary War commenced when colonists fought for their rights. Very few of the colonists were interested in independence from Great Britain at that time.
- Signing of the Declaration of Independence occurred when the colonists switched their mindset and became interested in independence from Great Britain. While the vote for the Declaration of Independence occurred on July 2nd, final revisions were approved and signed on July 4th.
- Early commemorations occurred immediately after the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. There were parades, concerts, cannon firings and musket demonstrations. Public readings of the doctrine were also a major part of the day. A few mock funerals were held for King George III in order to celebrate the end of his control of America!
Angry Bostonians read the Stamp Act
A National Holiday
Modern day Fourth of July means battling mobs of people at the grocery store, just needing to get your hands on that brand of hot dog that you find paramount to the others. But how did Independence Day become such a special day?
- The fourth of July became a Federal Holiday in 1870. Even though this was decades after the War of 1812, there was still a need for patriotic celebrations.
- This wonderful date became a paid holiday in 1941.
- Why do we hold cookouts? Prior to this day becoming a holiday, colonists and political leaders would hold rallies that involved the roasting of pigs or oxen. The practice was actually adopted from the West Indies called “barbacoa.” It was appreciated by the Democratic-Republican party who supported the southern states. Believe it or not, areas such as Philadelphia and Boston originally celebrated with turtle soup! After World War II, advertisements for family barbecues surfaced, and many homes were encouraged to enjoy their family and independence with their very own charcoal grill.
While you enjoy those sun-filled picnics and decorating your chihuahua with festive swag, don’t forget to pay thanks to our Founding Fathers. Their sacrifices on the battlefield and headstrong fight for our rights as a separate nation led you to the free land you stand on today.
Re-enactment of the 1775 Battle of Hampton
So How Can I Celebrate?
Where are you rocking those patriotic leggings and flag shaped sunglasses this year? Check out these fun filled opportunities in your neck of the woods!
- Eastern PA
- Wawa Welcome America! — Philadelphia, PA — This five-block extravaganza includes ziplines, games, crafts, entertainment and more!
- Star Spangled Spectacular Fireworks and Fountains Show — Kennet Square, PA — Longwood Gardens will celebrate the Fourth with 1,700 jet fountain streams, beautiful music, and fireworks.
- Narberth 4th of July Celebration — Narberth, PA — This celebration boasts a carnival filled with races and games, along with a parade and fireworks display.
- Visit the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall — Philadelphia, PA — There is no better way to pay homage to our Founding Fathers than to see where it all started!
- Western PA
- Flashes of Freedom — Pittsburgh, PA — This fun, free event includes reenactments, U.S. Air Force flyovers, and many festivities for the kids.
- Fort Pitt Museum Celebration — Pittsburgh, PA — This educational event includes reenactments, military music, and flag raisings.
- Canonsburg 4th of July Parade — Canonsburg, PA — A grand town celebration includes swimming, activities, and a fireworks show.
- Heinz History Center’s Independence Day Celebration at Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village — Avella, PA — This historic event includes period games and demonstrations.
- Central PA
- Lancaster Village independence Day — Lancaster, PA — A full weekend of events, this carnival includes rides, music, parades, and fireworks.
- Central PA 4th Fest — State College, PA — From a 4K race, to a roller derby competition, this event is sure to excite. There are BMX stunt shows along with a parade and fireworks.
- Taste of Independence Food Truck Festival — Harrisburg, PA — Enjoy more than 30 different food trucks, along with entertainment and children’s activities.
- 4th of July Patriotic Pops Concert & Fireworks — Gettysburg, PA — An action-packed event in a notably historic area of our state, this festival includes fireworks, performances, and excellent food.
- Revolutionary War Sites
The Fourth of July is an important way to remember the birth of the United States, and the forming of a new country of ideals. So when you’re out at a barbeque, watching fireworks, or gathering with friends to celebrate freedom, take a moment to thank those who decided to form a new nation! Do you have plans for the Fourth of July? Share them in the comments!
About the Author: Amy Dajczak is a kindergarten teacher at PA Virtual.