I think by now all of you know how much I love the history of holidays and how that reverberates for us today. July 4th, Independence Day, is no different. This July 4th, we get to celebrate our independence from the Covid pandemic as life begins to return to normal and the economy continues to improve. Each day I am grateful for the increasing freedoms we have in this country and for the way they personally affect my family and me.
So, how did we get here? The Fourth of July has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution. On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later, delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776 to the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with festivities ranging from fireworks, parades, and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.
The first fireworks were used as early as 200 BC. The tradition of setting off fireworks on the 4th of July began in Philadelphia on July 4, 1777, during the first organized celebration of Independence Day. Ship’s cannon fired a 13-gun salute in honor of the 13 colonies. The Pennsylvania Evening Post reported: “at night, there was a grand exhibition of fireworks which began and concluded with thirteen rockets on the Commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated.” That same night, the Sons of Liberty set off fireworks over Boston Common.
We don’t often think this far back when we celebrate Independence Day, which is one reason remembering the history of holidays is so interesting. Remembering the origins of a holiday keeps me grateful for what we have, where we've come from and it usually strengthens its meaning for me. I hope you all have a wonderful July 4th weekend and enjoy family and friends as we used to, just a year and a half ago.