The fireworks that light up the sky on the 4th of July are more than just an American holiday celebrated with revelry and backyard barbecues. Each year Americans look forward to a long weekend of fun spent with friends and family as they toast to the stars and stripes that have long been the backbone of their freedom. In the midst of all the patriotic colors and celebrations, you may be wondering how July 4 came to be a momentous day in American history.

What do we really celebrate on the 4th of July?

This day is a significant part of American history as it officially marks the day the United States became an independent nation. America as we know it was born on July 4, 1776, also written in history books as the Declaration of Independence. But which country did Americans declare independence from? This would be from Great Britain.

Looking back in time, Great Britain ruled over the land and established 13 colonies with Jamestown, Virginia being the first of all colonies that was settled. From there, other European nations came looking to colonize the land all throughout the 17th century bringing an estimated 2.5 million settlers into all 13 colonies who lived through the 18th century. 

However, it was not all peaches and cream and the American dream started to fade when Great Britain passed legislation that gave more control over taxing the colonists. After falling into a debt trap by waging war against the French and the Indians, the Crown needed to collect and gain more revenue by taxing the colonies.

The legislation was written into law that now forced the American colonies to pay more money to Great Britain. The sad part was that the colonies had no say in the Crown’s policies and rulings. This triggered tensions that brought on historical events such as the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party which carried on and gave birth to the American Revolutionary War.

Amid the ongoing battles, on July 2, 1776, Virginia statesman Richard Henry Lee proposed that all colonies declare independence from the Crown. Lee’s call to separate from the British rule was approved on July 4 and America became a free nation. 

Did You know…

  • Thomas Jefferson was the first US president to celebrate Independence Day at the White House
  • Founding fathers and U.S. presidents James Monroe, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson all died on the 4th of July.
  • Colonists celebrated Independence Day by doing mock funerals of King George III
  • The 4th of July only became a federal holiday in 1870. It was only in 1941 when July 4 became a paid holiday for federal employees.

What is the most American way to celebrate the 4th of July?

Fireworks and sparklers

There’s nothing more spectacular than a night sky full of colorful lights. Lighting fireworks and handing out sparklers has been a long-standing tradition for Americans when celebrating this day. The historical tribulations surpassed to gain independence are definitely worth celebrating this occasion with a bang.

Backyard barbecues

Family and friends make the most of this long weekend holiday to gather for a scrumptious all-day binge. An American barbecue is always fully stacked with July 4th staples such as hamburgers, hotdogs, and a long checkered table full of picnic sides, beers, and the all-American apple pie! 

Patriots and parades

Most towns and cities gather down the main streets to catch the annual parade of the red, white, and blue. Elaborately decorated floats make their way around with each depicting patriotic symbols of freedom and the American Yankee.  The parade is usually followed by marching bands from civic sectors from the military, police, and firemen. Festivals, country fairs, and carnivals are always the centers of fun and yummy grub. 

4th Of July Fireworks Celebrates America's Independence Day safely! Shutterstock