Red, white and blue colors, star spangled banners, and US flags of all sizes decorate the nation on Independence Day in celebration of its independence from the UK in 1776. Every year, on July 4, barbecues are lit, hamburger and hot dogs are grilled and lots of beer is consumed. In addition to decor and food, parades, concerts and parties take place throughout the day, culminating in an explosive, evening fireworks display in most major cities. Here are some fun facts about July 4 celebrations in the US.
In 1776, there were 2.5 million people living in the new nation. Today the population of the US exceeds 325 million.
Nearly 42 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more to attend Independence Day celebrations.
John Adams wanted the people to celebrate Independence Day with “Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” and in 1777 Philadelphia and Boston lit up their skies with fireworks.
The US imports over $227 million worth of fireworks from China.
The American Pyrotechnics Association says over 14,000 Independence Day fireworks are displayed on July 4.
It also imports nearly $3.6 million US flags from China.
Disposable dishes, utensils, cups, napkins and tablecloths are also outsourced to China.
The White House first celebrated Fourth of July in 1801.
It is estimated that Americans consume approximately 150 million hot dogs on this day.
It is also estimated that they spend $203 million just on condiments.
About 68.3 million cases of beer are sold over the Fourth of July holiday.
So why do countries have an Independence Day or National Holiday? Most countries celebrate their independence from colonialism; many their independence from the United Kingdom. Japan is regarded as the world’s oldest independent country, celebrating National Foundation Day, when Jimmu, the first emperor, was crowned on February 11, BC 660. South Sudan, on the other hand, is the youngest country to gain independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011.
If you’re traveling this summer and happen to be in a country celebrating their national day, it’s often an opportunity to experience the true culture and spirit of the nation. Plan for the closure of banks (exchange currency the day before), stores (stock up on groceries beforehand) and limited public transportation (check the local timetables for bus and train departures). Having said that, there’s no better way to get to know the true spirit of a country than to visit during their national day celebrations. Go with the flow of events, enjoy the traditional decor and relish in the abundance of traditional foods and drinks.
Culture Connect decided to look at countries across world and compile these interesting Independence Day or National Day facts.
Only two countries have no official National Holiday: Britain and Denmark.
Three countries have changed their National Holiday after recent historical events on their soil. Germany marks the reunification of East and West on October 3, 1990 (originally 17 June 1957), Russia marks the founding of its federation on June 12, 1992 (originally) and South Africa now celebrates its first post Apartheid democratic elections on April 27 since 1994.
Not all countries celebrate their independence, some countries celebrate the birthday of their monarch. Thailand celebrates the King’s birthday on December 5 (although this might change now since the King died in October last year), the Netherlands celebrates the queen’s birthday July 28 (although they use her mother’s birthday for the date ), Luxembourg celebrates on June 23 and Oman on November 8.
Portugal commemorate the death of its literary icon, the national poet Luis de Camoes on June 10 since 1580.
In Greenland, the National Holiday is the longest day of the year, June 21.
Israel has a moveable date and celebrates Independence Day any day between April 15 and May 15.
Australia celebrates on 26 January, the date of the founding of Sydney, the first European settlement in 1788.
Several countries celebrate their ruler’s ascension to the throne. Bahrain celebrates on December 16 (since 1961), Belgium on July 21 (since 1831), Bhutan on December 17 (since 1907), Liechtenstein on August 15 (since 2004), Monaco on November 19 (since 2005), Qatar on December 18 (since 1878), and Sweden on June 6 ( since 1523).
The tiny nation of Malta celebrates five National Days. When the last British troops withdrew from Malta in 1979, is Freedom Day and celebrated on March 31 (since 1979), when 4 Maltese med died during the bread riot of 1919 is known as Sette Giugno and celebrated on June 7, Victory Day is celebrated on September 8, Independence Day on September 21 (since 1964) and Republic Day on December 13 since 1974.
There are several countries that have unusual names for their National Holiday. In Taiwan it is known as Double Ten Day (10-10) because it is celebrated on October 10 (since 1911) and in New Zealand it is called Waitangi Day after the signing of the Treaty of Waiting on February 6, 1840. Like the US, New Zealand celebrates the signing of its founding document by representatives of the British Crown and over 500 Māori chiefs. Mexico’s National Day is called Grito de Dolores (or Cry of Dolores) and is celebrated on September 16. On the night of September 15, the President of Mexico rings the bell and repeats a shout of patriotism Grito Mexicano based upon the Grito de Dolores, with the names of the important heroes of the Mexican War of Independence from Spain in 1810. Guyana’s National Day is called Mashramani and is celebrated on February 23. The celebrations were originally Carnivals but the people wanted an Amerindian name for the festivities. A type of festival to celebrate a special event was called a "Muster Many" (or Mashirimehi in Amerindian) and sounded in Arawak like Mashramani. Officials took steps to confirm this but no one could confirm or deny that the Arawak word for Festival was Mashramani and so the Festival was called Mashramani. Today, the word has been shortened to Mash Day and includes festivities over a three-day period.
Greece celebrates an Independence Day that has blended with the Feast of Annunciation on March 25. After an occupation of 400 years, the Greeks rose up against the Ottoman Empire and won the war of independence in 1821. On the day of the Feast of Annunciation in the Orthodox calendar, the archangel Gabriel appeared to the maiden Mary and informed her that she was pregnant with the divine child.
Mongolia also has three days of celebrations on Naadam Day, its national holiday on July 11. "Eriin gurvan naadam" the three manly games of wrestling, horse racing, and archery- make up the core activities of the National day festivals.
The smallest state in the world by both area and population, Vatican City celebrates its foundation as a nation on February 11.
Andorra and Wales have national days based on patron saints. Andorra celebrates Our Lady of Meritxell on September 8 and Wales celebrates St. David’s Day on March 1.
Saudi Arabia commemorates its birth as a nation on 23 September, when it was established as a Kingdom.