Reporter: Hi, Joe! Welcome back to our weekly show, Culture Rendezvous. What can you tell us about why Americans celebrate the Fourth of July?
Joe: The Fourth of July celebrates the passage of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. The Declaration announced the political separation of the 13 North American colonies from Great Britain.
Interestingly, what most people don’t realize, even most Americans, is that the U.S. actually declared its independence on July 2. It was officially adopted on July 4, which was marked by the ringing of the Liberty Bell at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
During the 18th and 19th centuries it was celebrated every year, but it didn’t become a federal holiday until 1870. And it wasn’t a paid holiday for federal employees until 1941.
Also, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were only about 2.5 million people living in America in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was signed, compared to nearly 333,000,000 today.
|(Photo: Joe Fitzsimmons)
Reporter: Joe, how American people celebrate the Fourth of July today?
Joe: BBQ parties, parades and fireworks are the most common and popular events during the Fourth of July holiday. BBQs are a fun way to hang out with friends and eat a lot of food. Among the most popular things to eat are hot dogs, brats, hamburgers, corn on the cob, potato salad and potato chips.
Parades are very popular community events, and you’ll see many young kids being pulled by their parents in decorated wagons. Parade participants include high school marching bands, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, politicians, popular local business owners and even fire trucks.
|(Photo: Joe Fitzsimmons)
Reporter: Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t watching fireworks a big part of the celebration?
Joe: Yes, last but certainly not least, fireworks are extremely popular throughout this holiday and were even used to celebrate the first anniversary back in 1777. People often go to parks with blankets or chairs or watch from their balconies or roofs. The bigger the city, usually the longer the fireworks go on for.
Reporter: I heard there are some fun and interesting facts associated with July 4th. What are some of them?
Joe: Well, Americans have a famously big appetite. We eat about 150 million hot dogs over the July 4th holiday. According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, that would stretch from D.C. to L.A. more than five times. Incredibly, we eat approximately 7 billion during the summer season!
Three presidents have died on July 4: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Monroe. And it’s the number one holiday for beer sales, especially because of BBQ parties. Small towns typically blow off 8,000-15,000 US dollars worth of fireworks. According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, there are about 16,000 fireworks displays around the country each year. They also say that Americans, primarily men, spend more than $1 billion on fireworks each year, only 10% of which are done professionally. So it comes as no surprise that there are nearly 13,000 firework-related emergency room visits all across the country.
Reporter: Americans appear to love fireworks. I have one more question, about American flags. There are American flags everywhere on July 4th. Does the flag’s design have a symbolic meaning?
Joe: Actually, yes. Today’s flag consists of 13 horizontal stripes, seven red alternating with six white. The stripes represent the original 13 Colonies, and the stars represent the 50 states of the Union. The colors of the flag are also symbolic; red symbolizes hardiness and valor, white symbolizes purity and innocence, and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice.
Thank you very much for talking to us today about the Fourth of July. Hope to have you here with us again on VOV24/7’s Culture Rendezvous.
Thank you again for having me on. I enjoyed sharing more of the United States with you. Until next time!