On the 4th of July in the United States of America, you’re quite likely to hear the phrase “Happy Independence Day” or “ Happy Fourth of July ”. As such, this day is celebrated in a variety of ways which we will explore further in this article and answer the questions: why are we actually celebrating and wishing a happy 4th of July?
What the 4th of July means?
4th of July – This federal holiday marks the celebration of the USA’s independence from the British Empire on July 4th, 1776. The 4th of July meaning is all about this freedom from an oppressive government. We’ll also take a brief look at the history of Independence Day, USA and by the end of this article should know the answer to the question: what is Independence Day?
The British Colonies
Before we look at the modern day celebrations and at how people have a Happy Fourth of July, we have to take a step back through history to the 1500s when the British Empire first began to colonize North America.
These colonies served one primary purpose: exploiting the land of natural resources in order to improve the British economy through increased trading.
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Initially, the relationship between the American colonies and the British Empire was harmonious but over time the financial strain hitting Britain, in turn, impacted the colonies though unfair tax demands and the lack of representation within the British Parliament.
One such example would be the Sugar Act of 1764. This revenue-raising act imposed higher taxes on the trading of sugar which was one of the main exports from America.
The colonies were developing a sense of nationalism and such acts only alienated them further from the British Empire.
Around 1765, the famous phrase “no taxation without representation” began to circulate and an increasing number of protests began to take place. One of the most famous of which was the Boston Tea Party of 1773.
This was in response to the British Empire’s Tea Act which granted a monopoly on tea sales to the British East India Company.
The Thirteen Colonies
In response to the acts mentioned above (among others), delegates from each of the thirteen American colonies convened during a secret meeting.
Across several of these meetings, discussions regarding the future of the American colonies took place and a plan was put into action; A war against Britain was declared with the aim of achieving independence for the colonies.
Many of these colonies had already been running autonomously before the increased taxes and unfair trade acts were imposed. While the conflicts of the Revolutionary War would continue until the Treaty of Paris in 1783, the colonies (now recognized as states) declared their independence on July 4, 1776.
What is the Declaration of Independence?
July 4th, 1776 (which is when Independence Day is celebrated) marks the historical signing of the Declaration of Independence.
At Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia, 56 delegates met to ratify the document. These delegates were from the thirteen states that existed at the time and also included John Hancock who was the President of Congress.
The Declaration of Independence contains a sentence which would continue to be used through history, even up to the modern day. Found at the start of the second paragraph it states:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Not only did this mark a monumental moment in American history but also across the entire world. July 4, 1776, would inspire countries to rise up and become independent.
Independence Day holiday – Happy Fourth of July
As you can imagine the entirety of the USA sets out to have a Happy Fourth of July every single year. The suggestion of a celebration on this day can be found before the signing of the Declaration of Independence took place.
On the 3rd of July 1776, John Adams wrote a letter to his wife Abigail describing the fireworks, bells, games, parades, and other festivities that would take place to mark the following day. However, the term “Independence Day” would not take effect until 1791. So how do Americans have a Happy Fourth of July?
Having a Happy Fourth of July
July 4 is recognized as a Federal Holiday which means that schools and other government offices are closed. Many other businesses will also close down including banks and retailers.
The date of the holiday can vary slightly. For example, if July 4th is a Saturday then the holiday is moved to the Friday (July 3rd) and if it’s on a Sunday then it’s moved to the Monday (July 5th).
Many Americans will take the surrounding days off in order to give themselves a long weekend in order to make the most of the celebrations, this can include going on holidays with the family and friends to have a happy 4th of July.
The celebrations themselves have stayed relatively similar throughout history: fireworks are commonplace, as are alcoholic beverages and naturally, ” Happy 4th of July ! ” wishes.
For example, General George Washington doubled his troop’s rum rations in recognition of the date and in 1777 Bristol in Rhode Island saluted the 13 States with 13 gunshots at the start and end of the day.
Nowadays, families will often go for picnics, have barbeques and enjoy themselves, celebrating together and having a happy 4th of July.
Almost every major city (as well as many towns) will have their own firework displays. The White House (home of the President) takes part as well by having its own firework display, celebrating and wishing a Happy Fourth of July for all the people.
Overall, it’s a time for celebration and recognition of the freedom that the country fought so hard to achieve and I can only wish you a: