You may not be a history buff, but the history grounding 4th of July traditions is interesting, regardless. Living in DC ,with its numerous museums, memorials, and altogether rich history, it seems apt to discuss why we celebrate the 4th as we do.
On July 2nd 1776 the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence. The Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4th and is the root of our modern day celebration. You can go see it at the National Archives!
Prior to independence, the primary celebration practiced by colonists was a celebration of the king’s birthday. But, in 1776, colonists instead held mock funerals for King George III as a morbid symbol of the death of their categorization as an English colonial holding.
Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag in May of 1777. It shifted many times as states were added to the union prior to its final (?) design in 1956, as we know it today. And, by July, Philadelphia was host to the first annual celebration of independence. Philadelphia’s Independence Day bonfires and music eventually became traditions that spread throughout the young nation.
According to history.com, Washington gave his soldiers double rations of rum in 1778 as a part of the 4th celebration. What a guy!
In 1870 July 4th became a national holiday, and by 1941 it was an official federal holiday in which government employees were given paid time off, acting as a catalyst for greater national attention for the day. The traditions we associate with the holiday today, including BBQs and fireworks, came about shortly thereafter.
The national events that have led us to today’s traditions are a nice thing to think about in the midst of 4th activities. Of course, Cap City wishes everyone a fun and safe day, and is lucky to have so many properties throughout the district with rooftops –perfect for excellent fireworks views.