Why do we celebrate the Fourth of July? Everything to know about Independence Day 2024

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America will turn 248 years old this Independence Day, with all the fanfare you would expects – fireworks, cookouts, beach days, ceremonies, and more.

But sometimes reminders are needed, such as why do we all celebrate Independence Day on July 4 every year?

The immediate answer is simple, but the events leading up to America's freedom are much more complicated and involved.

Why does America celebrate the Fourth of July?

The easy answer is that July 4 is celebrated because that's the day in 1776 when the country declared its freedom from British rule by signing the Declaration of Independence.

True history buffs will know that only John Hancock penned his signature on July 4th. When the other 56 delegates of the the Continental Congress, the governing body of what were 13 U.S. colonies, signed is unclear. The document declared that the colonists in America were thereby free from British rule, even though the Revolutionary War was still raging.

There was an argument that July 4 was the wrong date to pick for the holiday.

See, the Continental Congress declared its freedom from on July 2, 1776. On that day, they voted on a resolutions that said "these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”

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Because of that, Massachusetts's John Adams "believed that July 2 was the correct date on which to celebrate the birth of American independence, and would reportedly turn down invitations to appear at July 4 events in protest," according to the History Channel.

For what it's worth, a month earlier Rhode Island was the first colony to renounce allegiance to Great Britain, declaring Independence by a legislative act on May 4, 1776.

How long has the Fourth of July been a federal holiday?

The U.S. Congress initially made it a federal holiday in 1870, but "in 1941, the provision was expanded to grant a paid holiday to all federal employees," according to the History Channel.

When were fireworks first used in July 4 celebrations?

That tradition began in Philadelphia on July 4, 1777, according to the History Channel.

Local Fireworks: When are the fireworks? Check our listing of July 4th fireworks and parades by date

The History Channel noted, "The Pennsylvania Evening Post reported: 'at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks (which began and concluded with 13 rockets) on the Commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated.' That same night, the Sons of Liberty set off fireworks over Boston Common.'"

Celebrations were also happening in Rhode Island. Mary Gould Almy, a Tory (British sympathizer) of Newport wrote in her diary, which is at Roger Williams University Library, the gun salutes were fired across the state.

More: Here's a look at how RI started celebrating the Fourth of July all the way back in 1777

"This being the first anniversary of the Declaration of the Independency of the Rebel Colonies, they ushered in the morning at [Bristol] by firing 13 cannons, one for each colony, we suppose. At 12 o’clock the three Rebel Frigates that lie at and near Providence fired 13 guns, and at one [o’clock] 13 guns were fired from their fort at Howland’s Ferry [Tiverton]. At sunset, the Rebel Frigates fired another round of 13 guns each, one after the other. As the evening was very still and fine, the echo of the guns down the bay had a very grand effect…”

When was the first Bristol Fourth of July parade?

The Pawtuxet Rangers march down Hope Street in the 2013 July Fourth parade in Bristol.
The Pawtuxet Rangers march down Hope Street in the 2013 July Fourth parade in Bristol.

Bristol holds the distinction of oldest Independence Day Celebration in the country.

More: Going to Bristol's famous July Fourth parade? Here's all you need to know to have a blast

In 1785 Rev. Henry Wight of the First Congregational Church and soldier in the Revolution organized "Patriotic Exercises" in Bristol. He asked the town to remember the veterans and show appreciation for the new nation.

This marked the first Bristol Fourth of July Celebration, which has continued to this day.

This article originally appeared on wickedlocal.com: Why do we celebrate the Fourth of July? What to know about the history