America’s birthday and everyone’s favorite summer holiday is right around the corner — while the grill heats up, take a minute to learn some interesting trivia about the Fourth of July!
We call Independence Day the Fourth of July for obvious reasons — but did you know that, technically speaking, the Second of July might be a better choice? Although our founding fathers declared the nation’s independence from England on the 2nd, it wasn’t officially approved by congress until two days later. What’s more, only two of the signers, John Hancock (also the first one to sign) and Charles Thompson, actually put pen to paper on the fourth.
Two of those founding fathers — Thomas Jefferson and John Adams — were so patriotic they died on July 4th. They both passed away on the infamous day in 1826, mere miles from each other.
Independence Day wasn’t officially made a U.S holiday until 1870, when congress lumped together a number of holidays, including Christmas, into one bill to officialize them.
Americans didn’t wait for the government to start celebrating, though — the first wide-spread celebration took place in Philadelphia in 1777, and included a parade and a thirteen cannon salute.
The following year, George Washington stepped up the celebrations by providing his soldiers with double rations of rum!
Today, we seem to celebrate mostly with hot dogs and fireworks: 63% of people attend one of the 14,000 fireworks shows that take place across the nation, and an astonishing 150 million hot dogs are eaten on the this one day! Laid end to end, that’s enough to stretch from Washington, D.C to Los Angeles five times. The state of Iowa produces one third of all hot dogs.
The menu has changed since the first Fourth of July celebrations, when John and Abigail Adams enjoyed turtle soup, peas, potatoes and salmon with and apple pandowdy — or Indian pudding, it’s not clear which — for dessert.
Macy’s New York City fireworks show alone uses 40,000 shells and 12,000 pounds of powder to launch them.
Although at-home fireworks are illegal in four states, just over one quarter of people will set them off at home.
Benjamin Franklin lobbied for the turkey to become the national bird, and was upset when they instead settled on the bald eagle, which he felt was “a bird of bad moral character”.
Americans aren’t the only ones who celebrate their independence on this day: both the Philippines and the Rwandans do, too (although since 1962 the Philippines have celebrated on June 12th).
Happy Independence Day!