It’s that time of year again—when red, white and blue becomes our country’s dominant color scheme, when hot dog and burger buns appear in bins by the numbers in the front of grocery stores, and when we all become patriotic country music fans—at least for a day. The Fourth of July signifies a time not only to appreciate the freedom that defines our country, but to simply sit back, relax and enjoy a summer day spent with family, friends, food and fireworks. As a bit of Independence Day enlightenment, here are a few things you didn’t know about the Fourth of July.
- Massachusetts first officially recognized the holiday. Massachusetts was the first state to recognize the Fourth of July as an official holiday on July 3, 1781. It wasn’t until June 28, 1870 that Congress included the Fourth of July in its list of federal paid holidays, along with New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
- But Rhode Island has been celebrating the longest. Rhode Island is home to what has been dubbed “America’s Oldest Fourth of July Celebration,” in Bristol, Rhode Island. The celebration of the country’s independence started in 1785, two years after the Revolutionary War ended and 85 years before the Fourth was decreed a federal holiday. Today, the town starts the celebration on Flag Day, June 14, and continues it through a 2.5-mile parade on July 4.
- Fireworks are a fan favorite. The American Pyrotechnics Association reports that around 15,000 fireworks displays are put on in celebration of Independence Day every year. Most small towns spend between $8,000 and $15,000 for their fireworks displays. However, bigger cities get into the millions. For example, Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks display in New York cost about $6 million in 2012.
- Thomas Jefferson was ahead of the times. Founding Father Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence on a “laptop,” which was a writing desk that could fit in one’s lap. In addition, it is generally known now that the Declaration wasn’t actually signed on the Fourth of July; it was officially voted in favor of on July 2. John Adams believed that this was the day that Americans should officially celebrate their independence.
- Jefferson and Adams share a significant death date. By an interesting twist of fate, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826,—50 years after the Declaration was adopted—perhaps solidifying the date as being apt for a celebration of independence despite the July 2 adoption. Another president–James Monroe, the nation’s fifth president, died on July 4, 1831.
- Americans aren’t the only ones celebrating. July 4 also marks an independence day in the Philippines and Rwanda. Known as “Republic Day,” July 4 marks the date when the United States officially recognized the Philippines as an independent state in 1946; however, since 1962 the official Filipino Independence Day has been recognized as June 12. Rwandans celebrate “Liberation Day” on July 4.
- It’s no secret that we love hot dogs…but you may be surprised as to just how much. The Fourth of July is the biggest hot dog day of the year in the United States, with Americans consuming about 155 million of them on Independence Day alone. Another fun fact: The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council reports that that amount of hot dogs can stretch from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles more than five times!
- But how about some turtle soup? Turtle soup? That’s right. Legend states that on July 4, 1776, John and Abigail Adams feasted on a celebratory meal of turtle soup, New England poached salmon with egg sauce, green peas and boiled new potatoes in jackets. Just a little different than the hot dogs, hamburgers, baked beans and Lay’s potato chips that we’re used to.
- Eating salmon is still a tradition up North. During the summers in New England centuries ago, salmon was abundantly available, so it was common to see on the table for Fourth of July celebrations. That tradition continues to today, as the fish is traditionally paired with fresh peas.
- And don’t forget the beer. In addition to hot dogs, the Fourth of July is also the country’s top beer-drinking holiday. In 2017, more than $1 billion was spent on beer alone, which was more than the cost of burgers and hot dogs combined. Another $568 million was spent on wine.
And there you have it…10 things you didn’t know about the Fourth of July to heighten your understanding and perhaps useless trivia about our nation’s Independence Day. From the McNutt & Partners team, we wish you a happy, fun and safe Fourth of July!
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