The Fourth of July is Independence Day in the United States of America. It celebrates the Declaration of Independence which declared America to be free and independent from Britain. It is America’s national day. It is a federal holiday although it is not a national holiday! While government offices, services, post offices and schools are closed, the individual states and individual businesses decide whether or not to grant their employees a holiday. Most of them do.
The Declaration of Independence
In 1776, what we now call America was simply known as the thirteen colonies. These were British colonies and ultimately ruled by the British monarch. In their campaign to become a separate country and break with British rule, The Declaration of Independence was drafted. It declared America’s independence from Britain.
It was adopted on July 4, 1776, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Thomas Jefferson was the main writer of the Declaration.
Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, political speeches, and ceremonies. There are thousands of public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States.
Fireworks are everywhere on the fourth of July. The first firework display was held in Philadelphia in 1777 on the first anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Today, up to 60% of Americans each year attend a firework display during the holiday period.
One very unfortunate firework event was in San Diego in 2012. In a terrible accident, all the fireworks went off at the same time. The planned 20-minute display instead lasted only 30 seconds!
See a video of the disaster here.
If you want to find out more about Independence Day and to practice your listening skills, these videos will help.