Why does the US celebrate the 4th of July?

Why does the US celebrate the 4th of July?

by Alison Maciejewski Cortez

Updated November 7, 2022

Why do they celebrate the 4th of July in the US? Simply put, it’s the United States of America’s birthday. US Americans love to celebrate with noisy fireworks and US flag-themed clothing and food and BBQs. What is the story of the 1st Independence Day? Let’s get to the bottom of how and why for the 4th of July in this article.

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Why does the US celebrate the 4th of July?

So why do people celebrate the 4th of July? To understand this, we need to go back over 200 years when the United States of America wasn’t a nation but a colony of England.

Independence Day history

England established colonies in North America in 1607. Over the course of 150 years, these colonies generated a lot of money for the King of England. Exported goods included tobacco, cotton, sugar, rum, corn, timber, whale products, and more.

England had strict control of the colonies through laws and taxation. Eventually, US American colonists started to resent England’s control. By 1775, small battles started to break out between British soldiers and armed militias.

Declaration of Independence

In 1776, men representing the 13 colonies got together to do something about it. At this Continental Congress, they voted to form an independent nation. They wrote a document called the Declaration of Independence. It was an open letter explaining complaints against England’s control and declaring the American colonies free. The letter was signed on July 4, 1776. 

To this day, US school children memorize the Declaration of Independence’s most famous line:

  • “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal…”

The colonies immediately celebrated the Declaration of Independence with fireworks. In the ports of Pennsylvania and Boston, ships fired guns and canons in a noisy celebration.

John Hancock

The Declaration of Independence had 56 men’s signatures, the largest one belonging to John Hancock. To this day, Americans will ask you:

  • “Can I have your John Hancock?” = Can I have your signature?

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How to celebrate Independence Day

Let’s talk about how to celebrate. US Americans go big for the 4th of July, no matter where they’re from. A beloved American tradition, it’s also the only major holiday during summer. Workers and school children get an extra day off to spend a 3-day weekend with their families.

Have a BBQ

Americans love to be outside on the 4th of July. We’ll have a BBQ (barbecue) in the park, on a boat, or at home in the backyard. We like grilling burgers (hamburgers) and ‘dogs (hot dogs). Other famous foods are potato salad and probably a cake that looks like an American Flag.


If you ask an American “why do we celebrate Independence Day ?”, they’ll say “freedom”. Today we use fireworks to create the noise and explosions of the first Independence Day. In every American city, you can park your car, have your BBQ, and wait for nightfall to see the fireworks show.

In some places in the US, you can buy your own fireworks. Be sure to check local laws, as some areas have made fireworks illegal due to fire hazard.

Wear an American Flag

Americans love their flag on the 4th of July. Many houses will display their American flag outside for the whole weekend. You can also get in the American spirit by wearing American flag-themed clothing such as t-shirts, dresses, swimsuits, sunglasses, or other red, white, and blue clothing.

Another Independence Day: Juneteenth

The USA continues to come to terms with its imperfect history. In that spirit, there is another Independence Day holiday in America called Juneteenth. It celebrates the emancipation of enslaved peoples in America. It is an especially important day for African-Americans. Progressive non-Black communities in the US have taken to celebrating Juneteenth to emphasize that the 4th of July didn’t result in freedom for all men or women for that matter

Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19th with parades, music, fireworks, and traditional red-colored foods such as red velvet cake.

Burgers, fireworks, and flags

The 4th of July celebrates the day the USA declared independence from England. Now, it is a fun summer holiday all about family, food, and firework shows. To join in, put on your best American flag shorts and watch fireworks light up the sky.

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Alison Maciejewski Cortez is Chilean-American, born and raised in California. She studied abroad in Spain, has lived in multiple countries, and now calls Mexico home. She believes that learning how to order a beer in a new language reveals a lot about local culture. Alison speaks English, Spanish, and Thai fluently and studies Czech and Turkish. Her tech copywriting business takes her around the world and she is excited to share language tips as part of the Lingoda team. Follow her culinary and cultural experiences on Twitter.

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