The Fourth of July is a celebration that harkens images of backyard barbecues, apple pie, fireworks, and maybe even the hit Broadway musical Hamilton. The traditions surrounding the Fourth of July are just as important to the American experience as the actual event itself. However, how did this come to be?
- While the 4th of July celebrates American independence from Great Britain in 1776, it wasn’t declared a national holiday until 1870, almost 100 years after the original signing of the Declaration of Independence.
- Fireworks being associated with Independence Day actually predates it becoming a federal holiday. John Adams, after signing, had written to his wife: It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
- No one is completely sure how “as American as apple pie” came to be, considering that apples are native to Asia and the first recorded apple pie recipe was from England. An ad in the Gettysburg Times promotes “New Lestz Suits that are as American as apple pie,” which is where the expression may have originated. However it started, apple pies are intertwined in American culture, so they’re worth eating on the most patriotic day of the year!
Want to explore more American history? Nancy Hewitt’s Thinking Through Sources for Exploring American Histories Volume 1 gives a firsthand look into the American Revolution and much more!
What’s your favorite 4th of July tradition?