The Fourth of July is celebrated each year as a symbol of United States patriotism. Americans across the world celebrate, with carnivals, barbecues and fireworks common. It is a federal holiday in the USA.
Why is it celebrated?
The 4th of July, also known as Independence Day, commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
America legally separated from Great Britain in 1776 during the American Revolution, signing a Declaration of Independence to this effect.
The thirteen American colonies became a new nation, the United States of America, no longer a part of the British Empire.
The Declaration was signed by a committee of five prominent politicians; John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston.
The tradition of celebrating the signing of the Declaration began one year later, on the 4th of July 1777, when three gunshots were fired in salute in Rhode Island.
Philadelphia also celebrated the first anniversary, with an official dinner, parades and fireworks.
They decorated ships which sat in port with red, white and blue bunting.
The oldest continuous Independence Day parade has been held every year since 1785, in Bristol, Rhode Island.
From then on the day was celebrated every year, becoming a paid federal holiday in 1938.
A federal holiday means that all non-essential businesses such as the postal service or federal courts are closed on that day.
The town of Salem was among those that celebrated the 4th of July with a towering bonfire, stacking crates and barrels in mountainous pyramids, setting them ablaze.
Now, traditions see families having picnics or barbecues, with politicians promoting the country’s history and laws at public events.
Fireworks are a staple in most states, with both public shows and private displays lighting up the skies.
New York City typically has the largest fireworks display in the country, with more than 22 tonnes of brightly coloured explosives gracing the sky in 2009.
Patriotic songs such as the national anthem, God Bless America and Stars and Stripes Forever are sung, with lyrics recounting the American Revolution.