I have lived in the United States for eight years now and without fail, one of my favorite holidays is the 4th of July. (Yes, I said “favorite” and not “favourite”. Who am I?)
Why you ask?
Because what other US holiday perfectly includes booze, patriotism, wearing red, white and blue and getting a day off work in the middle of summer?
First things first, no one calls it “Independence Day”. Independence Day is a blockbuster movie released in 1996 where Will Smith saves earth from an alien invasion. (Will Smith’s second greatest contribution to society, second only to “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”.) Independence Day on July 4th is actually the date that America gained their independence from Great Britain in 1772. God Save the Queen! (Too soon?)
For the past 240 years Americans have refined the art of 4th of July in the only way Americans know how to – Bigger is Better.
If you are like me when I first moved here, you may need a little how-to guide on the 4th of July. Here are the only three things you need to know:
BBQ vs Grilling vs Cookout
Whatever you call it here, Americans love to BBQ. All I know is raw meat + fire = delicious. You don’t have to be American to agree with that. A good BBQ is like a good cup of tea, it’s necessary, it’s delicious and you can majorly mess it up. So don’t. Once the food is served, the second best American ritual takes place. S’mores. Roast a marshmallow over the fire, put it between two graham crackers (aka biscuits), add a piece of chocolate and be prepared to thank the ghost of George Washington for creating this great country.
You are “required” to wear the American Flag on literally any piece of clothing
In my opinion it’s a tie between Canadians and Americans who wear their flag with the most pride. But on July 4th, you have to know how to rock the flag on literally everything. Sandals, socks, hats, shorts, shirts, tank tops, bikinis, baby onesies, and the list goes on. It all counts. You really only have two options - American Flags or red, white and blue. Bonus points if you also dress up your dog, house or front yard. Trust me, it’s a thing here. It’s the one day that everyone comes together to show their pride and love for their country.
Best rule to follow when it comes to fireworks is: Look, don’t touch. Everybody loves the fireworks on the 4th of July! We wait for it all year, we look forward to it, we plan our day around a good seat to view them. I have spent 4th of July watching fireworks from Jackson Hole, Wyoming to Portland, Oregon and it has the same nostalgic feel everywhere you go; the coming together of American families to celebrate all that is good about our great nation.
No matter where you live or what your political affiliations are, Americans feel a strong sense of pride in their country and their Independence on the 4th of July. It is a holiday that is so widely loved and celebrated, you find yourself getting caught up in it and celebrating right alongside the best of them.
And if you happen to memorize the lyrics to Neil Diamond’s “Coming to America”, you will definitely be a hit at any American 4th of July party.