The 4th of July, or Independence Day, is arguably America’s favorite holiday! The day commemorates when the US gained its independence, so historically, the day is filled with celebrations. One of the most colorful and interesting celebrations of the year, it’s a time to get together with friends, enjoy your favorite summer foods, listen to music, and have a great time.
Independence Day commemorates the day in 1776 that the Declaration of Independence was announced. At the time, the United States existed as thirteen colonies that belonged to Great Britain. The two had been at war for more than a year, but relations had been deteriorating for more than a decade at that point. The colonies wanted to govern themselves and it had been an ongoing problem for both parties.
In July 1776, the Declaration of Independence was put in place, declaring that the colonies in the US would become independent states and no longer operate under British rule. Congress voted to declare independence on July 2nd and it was announced two days later on July 4th. This lead to the celebrations we still enjoy today.
Red, white, and blue
While the day itself is incredibly casual, there’s an important dress code almost everyone goes by. You’re practically required to wear red, white, and blue! And while these friendly colors blend well with each other, they’re also our national colors and represent important values. The red is for hardiness and valor. The white represents purity and innocence. The blue is for vigilance, perseverance, and justice.
Parades and block parties
The 4th of July is a perfect time to socialize and that’s encouraged through parades, town festivals, and block parties takings place in just about every city in the US. The party is even bigger in a city like Washington D.C. but the 4th of July in Philadelphia is a must-see! Given it’s where the Declaration was signed, the city lives up to its expectations and throws an amazing party. Every year, Philly hosts an event called Party on the Parkway where a whole section of the city is blocked off to offer performances, games, food trucks, and activities for a whole family.
Outdoor concerts and performing arts
Concerts are a great way to spend the day. Most cities host concerts or performances in the park. In New York, there’s a summer series called Central Park SummerStage that offers free concerts. There are also plenty of amazing outdoor films and theater performances happening throughout the city. It’s the perfect space to lay down a blanket, lounge around during the movie or performance, and then stick around to watch fireworks.
Friends and loved ones
Another important holiday tradition is spending time with people you care about. Whether you live near family or friends, this is a great day to spend time with someone. In some parts of the country, families will use this as a time to rent a summer house by the ocean and enjoy a vacation together. Others will get together with roommates and friends and explore events around the city. However you decide to spend the day, it’s best with someone by your side.
No Independence Day is complete without a huge fireworks display. Whether in a smaller town or a big metro area, just about every county hosts a fireworks show. One of the favorite celebrations on the west coast is AmeriFest at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena or Hollywood Bowl’s “Fireworks Spectacular”. On the east coast, there’s a huge show in Philadelphia above the Philadelphia Museum of Art on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. But the largest in the country is the Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks display in New York. Fireworks are launched from boats on the East River and are best enjoyed from a rooftop around Manhattan.
Want to experience the US culture for yourself? At EF Academy’s international boarding schools, you can transform your high school experience while studying abroad.