What to Know About the Origins and Traditions of the Fourth of July Holiday

Dominic Tafoya arranges some new fireworks stock at a local fireworks concession stand on July 1, 2011 in Phoenix. Extremely hot, dry conditions are forecast for much of the West through the Fourth of July, raising concerns about wildfire and fireworks hazards. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

What to Know About the Origins and Traditions of the Fourth of July Holiday

What to Know About the Origins and Traditions of the Fourth of July Holiday

scheduled tribe. LWEIS (AP) – The Fourth of July is Americana at its core: parades and cookouts and cold beer and, of course, fireworks.

Those pyrotechnics also make it a particularly dangerous holiday, typically resulting in more than 10,000 trips to the emergency room. Yet fireworks remain at the heart of Independence Day, a holiday that has been 247 years in the making.

Here are five things to know about the Fourth of July, including the origins of the holiday and how fireworks became part of the tradition.

What is the origin of Independence Day?

The holiday celebrates the unanimous adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, a document announcing the colonies’ secession from Great Britain.

A year later, a spontaneous celebration in Philadelphia marked the anniversary of American independence, according to the Library of Congress.

But in the growing nation, observation did not become common until after the War of 1812. It moved quickly: the Library of Congress notes that major historical events in the 19th century, such as the groundbreaking ceremonies for the Erie Canal and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, were timed to coincide with the Fourth of July celebration.

How did fireworks become a Fourth of July tradition?

Pyrotechnic displays have been a big part of Independence Day since its inception. Founding Father John Adams saw it coming.

Adams wrote in a letter, “The independence of America should be celebrated with pomp and parade, from one end of this continent to the other, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and lights forever.” should go.” To his wife, Abigail, on 3 July 1776.

Fireworks were around for centuries before America became a nation. The American Pyrotechnics Association states that many historians believe that fireworks were first developed in ancient China in the 2nd century BCE by throwing bamboo stalks into a fire, which would explode when the hollow air was heated. Was.

The association noted that by the 15th century, fireworks were widely used in Europe for religious festivals and public entertainment, and that early American settlers carried on those traditions.

Has a president ever refused to celebrate?

Presidents from George Washington to Joe Biden have celebrated the nation’s birth on the Fourth of July, with one exception: Adams.

Except in a letter to his wife, Adams refused to celebrate July 4 as a holiday because he felt that July 2 was the real Independence Day. Why? On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of a resolution of independence, although the Declaration of Independence was not formally adopted until two days later.

Adams was so stubborn that he turned down invitations to festivals and other events, even while serving as the country’s second president. Ironically, both Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the primary authors of the Declaration of Independence, died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the document’s formal adoption.

How popular are fireworks?

Consumer sales of firecrackers have grown exponentially over the past two decades.

Figures from the American Pyrotechnics Association show that in 2000, American consumers spent $407 million on fireworks. By 2022, this figure is expected to increase to $2.3 billion. The biggest jump came during the COVID-19 pandemic, when public fireworks displays were called off. Consumer sales grew from $1 billion in 2019 to $1.9 billion in 2020.

“At the beginning of Memorial Day weekend, people went to the fireworks store and they didn’t stop,” said Julie Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association. “They’ve had fireworks throughout 2020. To be honest, it took the industry by surprise.”

The association said it expected sales to top $100 million this year. It helps that the Fourth of July is on a Tuesday, which essentially makes it a four-day weekend.

Are Fireworks Dangerous?

Despite extensive education efforts, thousands of Americans are fatally injured by fireworks each year. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that 10,200 people will be treated in emergency rooms in 2022 and 11 deaths will be attributed to fireworks. About three-quarters of the injuries occurred in the period around the Fourth of July.

About one-third of the injuries were to the head, face, ears or eyes. Injuries to the fingers, hands and feet are also common.

“I’ve seen people with fingers blown off,” said Dr. Tiffany Osborne, an emergency room physician at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. “I have seen people who have lost their eyes. I have seen people who have serious injuries on their faces.

Nearly a third of those injured by fireworks are children under the age of 15. Sparklers are often blamed for burns in children under the age of 5. Osborne suggests giving younger children glow sticks or colored streamers instead.

For those planning to set off fireworks, Heckman urged finding a flat, hard, level surface away from structures and other things that could catch fire. The person responsible for fireworks should abstain from alcohol. Children should never burn them.

Osborne encouraged having a bucket or hose nearby in case of a fire or explosion. Fire one by one and move away immediately after lighting, and never re-light or handle spoiled fireworks, he said. When done, shovel off the residue and soak it before disposing of it.

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