Independence Day - 4th of July

Independence Day, also known as Fourth of July, is the most important national holiday in the USA. Due to its historic and patriotic significance, it is celebrated with large parades and fireworks throughout the country. Learn everything about Independence Day now!

Origin: Why is it called Independence Day?

Independence Day is the day of American independence, which is celebrated on July 4. The history of this holiday goes back to the 18th century: Before 1776, the Thirteen Colonies of America, located in today’s New England, were still subject to British rule and had to pay taxes for imported goods such as sugar, coffee or liquor.

Picture of the date of the American Independence

The Statue of Liberty shows the date of the American Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

The American colonies began to complain about paying taxes to a smaller country which was also thousands of miles away. They had no rights and no representatives in the British parliament, so the slogan "no taxation without representation" became their mantra.

Consequently, many colonists began to boycott and even throw British goods into the sea, e.g. at the well-known Boston Tea Party. Thus, on July 2, 1776, representatives of the 13 American colonies voted for independence from the British rule because they felt they were being treated unfairly.

The Declaration of Independence

Two days later, by signing the Declaration of Independence, the American colonies declared independence from the British Empire on July 4, 1776. This important document was mainly written by Thomas Jefferson and then adopted and signed by the members of the Continental Congress. The most famous paragraph in the Declaration of Independence is as follows:

"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...."

Picture of the Declaration of Independence

The American Declaration of Independence is probably the most important document of the USA.

At the time the Declaration of Independence was signed, the 13 colonies were already at war with the Kingdom of Great Britain. On July 4, 1776, this declaration not only declared that the colonies were no longer under British rule, but also detailed the importance of freedom and the rights of man.

It defined the political and moral philosophy for the country that was to become the United States of America. The war ended in 1783, and the new nation was busy writing the later Constitution of the USA.

Traditions: How do Americans celebrate Independence Day?

One year after the signing of the American Declaration of Independence, big celebrations with speeches and parades already took place in Philadelphia. The city decorated the harbor ships in red, white and blue. Besides, the former 13 colonies celebrated by firing 13 cannonballs, and fireworks lit up the sky.

John Adams, one of the Founding Fathers, wrote to his wife that Independence Day should be celebrated with fireworks large enough to be seen "from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more". Thus, the first Independence Day celebration on July 4, 1777 was celebrated with a big bang and the tradition of setting off fireworks began.

Picture of the Independence Day fireworks in Washington D.C.

The capital of Washington D.C. holds one of the biggest parades along the famous monuments with big fireworks in the evening.

Today, pyrotechnicians work 11 months a year on the production and choreography of fireworks for the one day when their work goes up in flames, so to speak. The American Pyrotechnics Association estimates that on the Fourth of July more than 14,000 fireworks light up the night sky across America. In New York City alone, there are 14 locations from which they are fired. 

Great festivities all over the country

Independence Day is celebrated across the USA with parades during the day, fireworks at night and everything typically American: Barbecues, picnics, concerts, fairs, family gatherings, political speeches and ceremonies – there is something for everyone! Balloons, banners and decorations in red, white and blue – the colors of the American flag – are proudly displayed everywhere.

Picture of visitors at a 4th of July parade

On the 4th of July there are many parades all over the country, where visitors dress up in colors of the USA flag.

The US capital Washington D.C. naturally takes this holiday very seriously and puts its heart and soul into celebrating this patriotic day with a spectacular Independence Day parade and fireworks at the National Mall. Famous for their size and variety are also the fireworks in Boston or New York City, where the largest fireworks display in America takes place. 

There are also other special events, such as the Harbor Festival in Boston or the famous "Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest" in Coney Island, New York - an annual hot dog eating contest on July 4th.

Why is It an important day for Green Card winners?

How would you feel about not only living and working in the USA for as long as you like, but also having the chance to take part in the presidential elections as a US citizen? Green Card holders can apply for US citizenship after only five years of living in the USA!

In celebration of America’s Independence Day, the US immigration authorities (USCIS) invite thousands of people to give their "Oath of Allegiance" at a public Naturalization Ceremony. Naturalization applicants only become US citizens after giving their Oath of Allegiance: "They will be able to enjoy all the rights, privileges and responsibilities of US citizenship", said former USCIS Director León Rodríguez.

Picture of US naturalization

On Independence Day, the USCIS invites thousands of people to public Naturalization Ceremonies to swear to the "Oath of Allegiance".

If you want to learn more, we have already published an article about the Oath of Allegiance and the Naturalization Ceremony. Find out if there is a naturalization ceremony close to you and attend the celebrations. Even if you are just part of the audience now, you might soon be on stage yourself!

Interesting Independence Day facts

Last but not least we have listed some interesting facts about this holiday for you:

  • Two future US presidents who signed the Declaration of Independence, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both died on 4 July 1826, the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of independence.
  • 56 people signed the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson wrote the majority of it.
  • The Continental Congress actually voted for independence on 2 July 1776. John Adams, in his writings, noted that 2 July would be the date remembered in American history and be marked with fireworks and celebrations.
  • In 1870, the US Congress made Independence Day an unpaid holiday for federal employees, though it wasn't until 1941 that Congress declared Independence Day to be a paid federal holiday.
  • The estimated number of hot dogs eaten by Americans on the Fourth of July is 150 million.
  • The Fourth of July is the most popular holiday for grilling out (68 percent), followed by Memorial Day (52 percent) and Labor Day (51 percent).
  • Approximately 74 million Americans participated in a Fourth of July barbecue in 2006.

We also celebrate the world's biggest birthday party and wish everyone a glorious American Independence Day. Happy 4th of July!