Traditional Celebrations

The Fourth of July, also known as Independence Day, is a time for national celebration in America. It includes celebrations such as reunions, barbecues, picnics, block parties, parades, baseball games and more. A day that marks the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, the Fourth is a day to celebrate patriotism and reflect about all the Founding Fathers did in their struggle for freedom.

Most celebrations occur outdoors and kick off with a parade. At the finale of a Fourth of July celebration is usually a great display of fireworks at nightfall.

July 4th Traditions: Parades, Marching Bands and Music

Daytime celebrations in many cities and towns include street fairs, parades with marching bands (who are usually decked out in red, white and blue and carrying American flags), patriotic floats and, of course, patriotic songs.

A July 4th parade will come with all types of pomp and circumstance. The best parades typically include floats, marching bands, horses with riders, and costumed dancers and characters. Because the parade is in honor of July 4th, there are usually marching veterans and military units or vehicles. Many families plan their entire celebration around a 4th of July parade. Most parades finish with a Grand Marshal who is often a famous citizen or Uncle Sam.

Patriotic tunes always accompany parades, but are not limited to them. Songs like “The Star Spangled Banner,” “Yankee Doodle,” “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” and “This Land is Your Land” resound throughout the day, mostly sung by young children who learn the songs in school.

Traditional 4th of July Celebrations

Block parties spanning entire blocked-off streets of gathering neighbors, barbecues, picnics and family get-togethers on the Fourth of July all have one thing in common: copious amounts of food. Grilled meats, watermelon, corn on the cob, chips and dip, potato salad, pie and ice cream are among the traditional American foods. Some cooks plan their entire menus and table settings around the red, white and blue patriotic theme colors.

Hamburgers and hot dogs are common barbecue fare, with most other side dishes prepared ahead of time. Potluck feasts are common, with guests contributing salads and desserts to relieve the host’s burden.

Fourth of July celebrations generally have games or activities organized throughout the day. Some families maintain their annual tradition of a pickup softball game or they spend the day cooling off at a lake or in a pool. Family reunions are common and the old folks love to gather and reminisce about past Fourth of July celebrations.

July 4th Fireworks

Last, but nowhere near least, come the fireworks. Almost every city and town in America has a pyrotechnics show close by, most often organized at a school or local park. Larger cities hold fireworks shows at stadiums or city parks, and beach cities often shoot fireworks from a pier or high point so that they’re visible over the ocean.

Viewing a professional show is usually far superior to any fireworks that civilians can purchase. Shows are more elaborate, are often choreographed to patriotic music and go on much longer than your average civilian fireworks display. Also, the safety worries and hassles are avoided if people choose to simply watch a professional fireworks show.

For those who want to set off their own fireworks, safety precautions are absolutely necessary. Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before purchasing or lighting any fireworks. Read all directions and make sure you have a bucket of water handy in case of mishaps. Young children should never be allowed to set off fireworks, and even sparklers should be handled with care by children no less than five years of age. If allowing children to use sparklers, talk to them about safety first, and strictly enforce rules to keep sparks away from anyone’s clothing or hair.