Weird Facts About The Fourth of July That You Probably Didn't Learn In School
Oh, the Fourth of July. America's birthday, the United States' most patriotic holiday, the time of year that seems to embody the height of the hot, sweaty, alcohol-soaked summer season. Craving a bit more than the traditional beer and BBQ? Check out these weird facts about the Fourth of July that you probably didn't learn in school.
#Freedom, #Patriotism, #GeorgeWashington, #Eagles — collectively, these comprise the mainstream Fourth of July brand, particularly on Instagram where hashtags run wild. But ask the average person on the street what, specifically, this holiday is celebrating, and I have a sneaking suspicion that any further elaboration apart from "America's birthday" may be a bit difficult to find.
The general narrative is that the Fourth of July celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which, according to public opinion, happened on the Fourth of July. Though the nation hardly experienced a spontaneous forming, the Declaration of Independence announced both the existence of the United States and the separation from Britain.
But the traditions of Jul. 4 — primarily, barbecuing meat, setting off fireworks, and a general party atmosphere — seem arbitrary, at least on the surface. Why does consuming copious amount of smoked meat outside signify a country's birthday? Why do we set off fireworks? Why, oh why, do we insist on drinking heavily when the last thing our bodies need in mid-summer heat is more dehydration? Oh, there are reasons, my dudes. Lots of really weird reasons.
The First Fourth Of July Was Celebrated In 1777, Not 1776
Fireworks, ringing bells, big smiles — the first Fourth of July celebrations in Boston and Philly sound extremely pleasant and fun, but they didn't take place until a year after the Declaration of Independence was signed!
But "Independence Day" Wasn't A Federal Holiday Until 1870
Until 1870, it was regarded as an unpaid holiday. Sure, you could drunkenly set off fireworks and wish Lady Liberty a happy birthday, but you were doing it on your own time and your own dime.
Oh, And The Declaration of Independence Wasn't Signed On Jul. 4...
Sorry, my dudes. The Founding Fathers penned their names on Aug. 2.
...Which Is Why The Fourth of July Isn't Actually Celebrating That Historic Signing
Just Don't Tell The Ghost Of John Adams — He Was Pretty Certain Jul. 2 Was Going To Be Our Favorite Holiday
In a famous Jul. 3 letter to his wife Abigail, John Adams predicted that Jul. 2, the day Congress voted to sever ties with Britain, would prove to be America's most patriotic holiday. Sorry, John!
If You're in Philadelphia, PA For The Fourth of July, You Can Watch The Ceremony Of Officials Gingerly Tapping The Liberty Bell 13 Times
Thirteen for the 13 colonies. Nervous tapping because it's old AF and very much cracked.
Because The United States Loves To Celebrate Itself, A Number Of Other Countries Host Fourth of July Celebrations To Attract American Tourists
Norway, Denmark, China, Ireland, France, Australia — beer, BBQ, and cowboy books run rampant throughout these countries on Jul. 4. Tourists love 'em, citizens (apparently) adore 'em.
China Is The Largest Exporter Of American Flags In The World
Which Largely Contributed To The Passing Of Legislation Making It Illegal For The Military To Fly "Foreign-Made Flags"
The bill passed in 2014, but it extends exclusively to the Armed Forces. There was a push for the law to extend to all federal buildings, but those China-made flags are notably less expensive than their domestically produced brethren.
China Is Also The Largest Supplier Of Fireworks To The United States
Which makes sense, given that they're credited with inventing fireworks some 2,000 years ago.
You Can Thank Politicians For The Jul. 4 BBQ Tradition
Roasting meat outside was practiced even before the nation's founding, particularly in the Southern colonies, in a technique gleaned from the West Indies. In the 18th and 19th centuries, as politicians pushed for federal recognition of the Fourth of July, they held patriotic rallies— and, turns out, the concept of BBQ meshed well with agrarian values and states' rights. Now, an estimated 150 million hot dogs and 700 million pounds of chicken are consumed each year on Jul. 4.
Just Be Glad Philly, Boston, And Charleston Didn't Get Their Way
Yeah, they loved a good Fourth of July turtle soup. Mmmmmm, tastes like patriotism.