The 4th of July: the glorious day when Americans have cookouts, watch fireworks, and attend parades.
But what are we really celebrating? And what else is happening on this day?
We've compiled a list of 10 things you might not know (but probably should) about our beloved 4th of July holiday.
1. Independence Day Should Really Be Celebrated on July 2
The second Continental Congresses actually voted for America's independence on July 2. In fact, founding father John Adams wrote a letter to his wife predicting "The second day of July, 1776, will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival." July 4 is only significant because that was the day that Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence document. Yet, even that highly celebrated document wasn't actually signed on the 4th. Rather, it was signed at a more leisurely pace throughout the summer of 1776. So, happy, er, 2nd of July?
2. Two of Our Founding Fathers Died on July 4th
In a bizarre, but oddly appropriate, twist of fate, two of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, passed away on Independence Day. "The publication of the Declaration of Independence may have accidentally made the Fourth of July the official day of independence of America, but the deaths of two of its founders cemented its creation of the date's designation," wrote FW's Danny Gallagher last year.
3. It's the Biggest Hotdog Day of the Year
According to TIME magazine, American's eat more hotdogs on July 4 than on any other day of the year. About 155 million hotdogs are consumed on Independence Day each year.
4. The Liberty Bell Isn't Actually Rung on the 4th
Due to concerns that the iconic instrument is deteriorating, the Liberty Bell has not been rung sing 1846. Instead, the 2,000-pound bell is gently tapped 13 times on the 4th of July to signal for bells across the country to start ringing.
5. Famous People Celebrate Independence Day Birthdays
The country's 30th president, Calvin Coolidge, was born on the 4th. Other notable Americans who celebrate their birthdays on Independence Day include current first daughter Malia Obama, "Ugly Betty" actress Becki Newton, and Olympic gold medalist Pam Shriver.
6. The 4th of July Wasn't Always Recognized as a National Holiday
According to TIME magazine, "Americans began observing the Fourth of July as early as 1777, when the first-ever major celebration in Philadelphia included a parade, a 13-shot cannon salute, and fireworks, but Congress didn't make it official until 1870, when it was part of a bill passed to recognize major state holidays at a federal level." Just think of those poor 18th century souls who had to work on the 4th.
7. The U.S. Isn't the Only Country Celebrating its Independence Today
July 4th marks days of independence in both the Philippines and Rwanda. July 4 is known as "Republic Day" in the Philippines and commemorates the date when the U.S. officially recognized this Southeast Asian nation as an independent state in 1946. Rwandans celebrate "Liberation Day" on the 4th, which marks 1994 end date of the Rwandan Genocide.
8. Our Founding Fathers Would Not Have Recited the Pledge on the 4th
The Pledge of Allegiance did not exist during the lifetimes of our founding fathers. The Pledge was written in 1892, over a century after America's founding.
9. The Turkey Almost Became America's National Bird
Apparently good ol' Ben Franklin was displeased that the bald eagle had been chosen as the symbolic bird for our nation. He said that the eagle is "a bird of bad moral character. He does not get his living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead tree near the river, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labour of the fishing hawk." A turkey, on the other hand, is the "true native of America," Franklin wrote.
10. Turtle Soup Could Have Become Our Go-To July 4th Food
As legend has it, on July 4, 1776, John Adams and his wife Abigail sat down for a celebratory meal of turtle soup, New England poached salmon with egg sauce, green peas, and boiled potatoes. Still thinking of barbecuing today?
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