America's birthday is just around the corner, and people are still bemused or unbeknownst to the fact that, when is the US Independence Day. Apparently, Americans are busy prepping for barbeques, beer and importing fireworks from China to celebrate their country's birthday. Some may have an apathetic attitude towards the date of independence, thinking -- July 2 or 4, maybe it's a belated celebration, we just need a reason to enjoy. And, there are some who agree with July 2 and some, July 4. Moreover, there'd been some tremendous changes in the way this festival is celebrated. What happened in 1776 wouldn't be same as 2016.
Read on to find out what happened on America's first birthday and what is happening now.
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One of the largest celebrations was held at Philadelphia. The Continental Congress hosted an official dinner, gave 13 toasts & organized a 13-gun salute."Americans also celebrated with speeches, parades and fireworks", said Adam Criblez, an assistant professor of History at South East Missouri State University & the author of 'Parading Patriotism: Independence Day Celebrations in the Urban Midwest, 1826-1876.'
"1777 in Philadelphia kind of sets the tone for July Fourth for the next 80 or 90 years", Criblez said.
Even the Revolutionary war troops celebrated the US Independence Day. George Washington offered his troops a double ration of rum and commanded a cannon salute.
The war sentiments were strongest in New England, so most of the celebrations were held there. The US was still figuring out a way to recall and respect its birthday. Still, the dedicatory practices dispersed. From the 1770s to 1860s, most of them incepted the day with an artillery fire at dawn, if they had cannons on hand, Criblez said.
"If they didn't have cannons in the town, some of the men would get up & shoot their muskets into the air," he said. "That was a kind of a 'Welcome to Independence Day'".
During the lunchtime, women would return home and prepare for supper. "The men would go off the bar & spend hours drinking in the afternoon," Criblez said.
Two Presidents died on 4th July & one died after consuming adulterated food & drink during the merrymaking.
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826. Five years later, James Monroe, the fifth President died on July 4, 1831.
Zachary Taylor, the 12th President died on July 9, 1850. Sources say that the day was scalding hot and the President ate a lot of cherries, drunk ice-cold milk & several glasses of water. He was quite under the weather & died days later. The cause of Taylor's death is still vague.
"Whoever won had local bragging rights for another year," Criblez said. Baseball gained its popularity during and after the war. Independence day tournament began to hold. Independence Day Celebrations also changed during the American Civil War. Instead of artillery salutes and parades, many people shifted to picnicking with their near and dear ones. The picnics often aimed for fundraising, where the hosts charged an entrance fee & donated the money to the troops, Criblez said.
Before the Civil War, if your business was open, you'll be considered unpatriotic. But, that changed after the war.
"By the 1870s, you have what I would consider, a pretty modern 4th of July."
"One big target was the Fourth of July," Criblez said. "What reformers said is that people were getting too drunk & they were being dangerous by shooting off fireworks."
According to the researchers at Case Western Reserve University, organizers started the Safe and Sane Movement. In Cleveland, the movement prompted the city council to ban fireworks in 1908, other citizen followed the same suit in the imminent years.
Jack Johnson, a boxing champion, was the first African-American to hold the world heavyweight boxing title.
"He was a pre-Mohammed Ali type of personality," Criblez said. "He wore fur coats. He liked to date white women, and he was outspoken. Basically, the boxing establishment didn't want him to be the champion anymore, and they began this search for someone who could take the belt from him."
It was an excellent celebration back then.
Fireworks are shrinking. While the blasts are smaller, but they are multiplying. The reasons being:
1. Expansion of cities
2. Tightened regulations
1. Most fireworks are named after flowers.
2. The center, secondary bursts are called pistils.
3. If a firework looks like a smiley face in the sky, it's packed like a smiley face inside.
4. A vast majority of firework production has moved to China.
5. Your average show takes two man-hours of design for every minute you see.
6. More highly choreographed, music-synced shows can take twice that.
7. Most shows play out via three distinct altitudes.
8. The opening of a show is so dazzling that it's actually called an "opening finale."
So, to conclude, Happy birthday in advance to one of the fastest growing continents in the world. US Independence Day is not only celebrated in the US, but in other countries too. Barbeques, drunken merrymaking, parades, fireworks and what not.
God Bless America. :)
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