With 243 years of tradition behind it, the Fourth of July is one of America’s most cherished holidays.
It’s when we celebrate our nation’s independence with a day off, a backyard barbecue and plenty of fireworks.
But with all that history, you’d be forgiven if you didn’t know quite everything about July 4.
So, from the true story behind the signing of the Declaration of Independence, to some staggering hot dog statistics, here are some things you might not know about the Fourth of July, with thanks to Jay Serafino.
First of all, what we celebrate on the 4th is the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, not the actual signing.
After Thomas Jefferson had penned the historic document’s draft, he presented it to the Continental Congress for approval, but the famous painting by John Trumbull of all the founding fathers and Continental Congress huddled around the document George Washington is gazing upon never really happened.
They had already voted upon independence on July 2, a day John Adams believed we should celebrate.
Only John Hancock and Secretary Charles Thompson signed early printed copies which were then distributed to military officers and political committees.
Most of the other 54 signees did not do so until August 2, and John Hancock boldly signed his name again on the updated version, engrossed and enlarged for all to see.
Massachusetts was the first state to actually recognize the date as a holiday on July 3, 1781. It wasn’t until June 28, 1870, that Congress decided to start designating federal holidays with the first four being New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. This decreed that those days were holidays for federal employees.
Fireworks? How can there be a Fourth without Fireworks?
According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, around 15,000 fireworks displays will take place on the Fourth of July holiday (even if some aren’t exactly on July 4).
Though pricing varies, most small towns spend anywhere from $8,000-15,000 for a fireworks display with larger cities going into the millions, like the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular at around $2.5 million.
What’s the Fourth of July without hot dogs? Scattered, smothered, or covered with mustard, ketchup, etc., it’s an American tradition, also.
Around 150 million will be consumed by Americans on the Fourth of July. According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, that amount of dogs can stretch from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles more than five times. Wonder if Hot Dog Eating Champion Joey Chestnut could down that many?
But that’s not the only food we will consume on the holiday. Americans will spend big on food and drinks this Fourth.
Big to the tune of around $7.1 billion when all is said and done, according to the National Retail Federation.
This includes food and other cookout expenses, averaging out to about $73 per person participating in a barbecue, outdoor cookout or picnic.
Then comes the booze.
The Beer Institute estimates that Americans will spend around $1 billion on beer for their Fourth celebrations and more than $450 million on wine.
You probably know that both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on July 4, 1826 — 50 years to the day after the Declaration of Independence was adopted.
They’re not the only presidents to have died on the Fourth, though; James Monroe — the nation’s fifth president — died just a few years later on July 4, 1831.
Though the holiday might seem like it has it out for former presidents, there was one future leader born on Independence Day. The country’s 30th Commander-in-Chief, Calvin Coolidge, was born on July 4, 1872.
What will your Fourth of July look like 243 years after the original?
Families will gather, food will be center stage, flags and stars and stripes will fly everywhere, and some may even recall what it’s all about, and that’s the way it oughtta be.
Alan Clark’s auditorials are available on Apple’s music app. He lives and writes in Estill Springs, Tennessee, and his columns have appeared in newspapers since 2017.