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Hot Dogs and Fireworks: A 4th of July Guide for Non-Americans

through the streets of United States on the 4th of July, men in red, white and blue tank tops dust off their grills, children throw explosive paper wrappers into dead ends and patriotic-themed commercials take over the airwaves.

And the Independence Day .

If you grew up elsewhere and already found American customs a little strange, here’s what you need to know about this important holiday.

Why the Fourth of July?

On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress, two days after a vote on separation from the United Kingdom. The Declaration, drafted by Thomas Jefferson (who eventually became president and died on the 4th), is basically the birth certificate of the United States, declaring the US separate from British power.

Although these founders signed the document in 1700, Independence Day did not officially become a public holiday until 1870, and it became a paid federal holiday in 1941.

So you can think of the Fourth of July as a gigantic national birthday party for which giant candles are used that explode violently in the sky.

Why the phrase ‘land of the free, home of the brave’?

This line comes from the US national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner”, which was written by Francis Scott Key. If you listen carefully to the lyrics, you will notice that the song chronicles the events of the bombing of Fort McHenry in 1814.

In 1931, it was named the national anthem. Don’t worry, you don’t need to memorize everything; humming works well for many Americans.

What’s the deal with hot dogs?

Hot dogs became extremely popular in the United States in the late 19th century. These bad boys are now a staple at any 4th of July barbecue. Americans consumed at least 150 million hot dogs on the fourth day of last year, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council.

And the “fireworks” of Katy Perry’s music?

Fireworks were first brought to the United States by Italian immigrants who settled in the country in the late 19th century. The U.S. now consumes fireworks in large quantities in honor of this holiday, importing more than 11.3 million pounds of branded consumer and display fireworks in 2017, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association.

But fireworks have a much deeper story here than you might think. The move to “boom” the celebrations dates from 1777, one year after the declaration of independence. That year, a celebration in Philadelphia included 13 fireworks fired across the Commons in honor of the 13 colonies.

How else do Americans celebrate?

It would be easier to count the ways that the Fourth of July is not celebrated. Barbecue, picnicsfestivals, parades: there are events held across the country in honor of the holiday.

In Atlanta, people make room for all that grilled food by running the AJC Peachtree Road Race, the longest 10km race in the world. And on Coney Island, New York, Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest is practically its own holiday.

I’m in the USA. Where can I go for fun?

There are many ways to start your holiday, whether it’s a traditional parade or a weirder form of celebration. Many small parades are organized by local firefighters and schools, so be sure to check for upcoming events. Many fireworks shows are staged in downtown areas; follow the long line of slow cars heading in that direction.

Source: CNN Brasil

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