Each country, each nation has many dates in its history that it wants to remember for as long as it exists. Many of these are related to liberating from an oppressive regime or a colonialist force that kept a tight grip on the nation, controlling every aspect of the people’s lives, and often giving them a second-rate status.
The USA is not an exception. What we know as the “United States of America” today was once little more than a collection of British colonies. Their separation from the British Empire and the founding of the USA is celebrated to this day on the 4th of July, better known by the name “Independence Day”.
What Americans celebrate on the 4th of July
The idea of the separation of the thirteen American colonies from Britain emerged decades before the American patriots actually took action. It all began with a law enacted by the English parliament that prohibited British producers from growing tobacco and encouraging shipbuilding in New England – a measure with barely any economic impact but with a massive political response. At the time, merchants were not only wealthy but very politically active, too.
Further measures imposed by the English government have caused the unrest and resistance to grow in the American colonies, that culminated in the events that went down in history as the Boston Tea Party, in December 1773. Here, demonstrators threw an entire shipment of tea from the British East India Company into the sea. The harsh response of the British government led to the American Revolution, which turned into a bloody conflict that ultimately ended with the declaration of the colonies’ independence from Britain on July 4th, 1776.
How is Independence Day celebrated
Independence Day is a federal holiday – banks, institutions, and pretty much every non-essential office and business is closed, leaving people free to spend a day on the most beautiful beaches or simply grill in their backyard.
Fireworks, barbecues, picnics, and parades are traditional ways to celebrate Independence Day in the US. Many areas hold commemorative events ranging from speeches and ceremonies by politicians and officials to special sporting events and concerts held across America.
In New England, some towns have a habit of building huge bonfires on the days preceding the 4th of July, setting it on fire on the eve of the celebration. The highest such bonfire was lit in the town of Salem, Salem, Massachusetts – here, the townspeople traditionally build pyramids consisting of up to 40 tiers of barrels and set them ablaze to usher the celebration.
Fireworks are also a tradition on Independence Day. These are organized by the authorities and at the same time, people are lighting their own. This is actively discouraged by the authorities, though – fireworks cause thousands of fires in the US each year, many of them around this time of the year.