Unique Ideas for Celebrating Independence Day
July 4th is the day that the United States of America has designated as the day to celebrate their independence from the yoke of England. It is celebrated in many ways all across the country and especially in areas where actual battle took place during the Revolutionary War.
The details of Independence Day have possibly been lost over the years. It is a Federal holiday (declared in 1941) and some see it as a day off with fireworks. But, the day is more than that and you can show that through your observance of the festivities.
In this report you will learn about ways to bring Independence Day alive for your family and the community at large. Some ways are more traditional but you can put your own stamp on them and make them unique. First- a history lesson.
THE MEANING OF JULY FOURTH
It might be important to share a brief history lesson before proceeding. Letís jump in our time machine and go back a few thousand years. Everyone knows about the voyage of The Mayflower. Citizens of the British Empire fled the country to avoid religious persecution. These people landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620.
As the years went on, the number of people grew. They set up government and divided into 13 colonies. By the 1700s, the colonists had grown restless and wanted to be governed by their own rules. In a word, they wanted to be free of their king who lived 3,000 miles away with an ocean in between.
The Declaration of Independence that we use today as a definition of who we are as a country was actually a list of grievances drawn up at the Second Continental Congress. The continental congresses were set up as a way for each colony to be represented in the process of breaking away from England.
This second draft was signed by 56 men including John Hancock who was the president of the Second Continental Congress. Each man knew they could be hanged for their words but they didn’t care. Right was right.
Things came to a head in 1770s with the Boston Tea Party. For those who don’t know the truth behind it, the British were levying taxes on the colonies to bail out one of their Indian tea companies. Not to be bullied, the colonists dressed up as Indians and dumped the tea overboard in Boston harbor.
A skirmish broke out between colonists and British soldiers. The British soldiers shot into the crowd and killed a few of the colonists. This was just the beginning of the Revolutionary War that lasted for years, until 1783. But, people were encouraged to celebrate each year on July 4th from the time the grievances were written up (1776) until the end of the war when it was made official.
Independence Day is a cause for merriment each year in the U.S. Families can share in the fun with a few of their own ideas.
Red, White and Blue breakfast
Red, white and blue are the colors of the American flag. Did you know that each color represents something about the country? Red represents the courage of the colonists in declaring and fighting for their independence. White stands for purity. And, blue stands for the cause and belief in justice.
It is not known why the colonial leaders chose those colors. Maybe because the same colors were a part of the British flag and they wanted to create something for themselves that was different. All in all, the colors symbolized freedom to the colonists.
You can represent that freedom with a red, white and blue breakfast. Start the day with patriotic celebration. Create a breakfast meal that represents the colors of our countryís freedom.
Here are some ideas:
Red, white and blue parfait
Layer fresh cut strawberries with whipped topping and fresh blueberries. Add a bit of granola for crunch.
Make your favorite flapjacks and top them with fresh strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream. Add the blueberries to the batter for a more festive pancake. This idea works well with waffles and French toast as well.
Let others in your neighborhood know that you mean to celebrate Independence Day in more than just words. You don’t have to go overboard to get the point across. Here are a few ideas that might help get the creative juices flowing.
You can hang a real flag or even a red, white and blue windsock. If you do hang a flag, be sure that it doesn’t touch the ground.
Decorate your yard
Add a few accoutrements to your flower garden to subtly accentuate the outside of your home. Patriotic pinwheels interspersed among the flowers can dazzle passers-by. If you are having a get-together at your home, kids can take the pinwheels with them at the end of the event.
Red, white and blue centerpieces
For your dining table and also outdoor patio tables (if you are having guests over), welcome the celebration with a cheerful centerpiece. Arrange tissue paper or artificial flowers in small white baskets. Guests can take the centerpieces home with them if you wish.
Give out gifts to those coming to your home. Offer red, white and blue bandanas as an accessory to their outfits. Tie it around your head, your wrist or your neck. They are inexpensive to provide and fun.
You can learn more about your countryís past by watching a patriotic movie. These movies donít have to just be about the Revolutionary War. They can be about any war in which the United States was involved. Soldiers represent the ideals and beliefs of a country by pledging their allegiance to fight for it.
Some movie ideas:
Independence Day – Involves fighting aliens, but we still want to be free
The Patriot – Period piece with a lot of action and heart
Miracle – The triumph of a hockey team
Apollo 13 – Our foray into the final frontier and space
Forrest Gump – A true patriot
Born on the Fourth of July – A story about a Vietnam vet, Ron Kovic
Saving Private Ryan – Soldiers risking their lives to get one of their own home
Schoolhouse Rock – This is a throwback but has a lot of patriotic episodes for kids and nostalgic adults
All the movies are not going to be appropriate for all age groups.
Crafts and games
Learning about the history of this country doesnít have to be boring. You can make July 4th fun and exciting for your kids through crafts.
Red, white and blue bracelets
Let them display the colors of the flag and learn their meaning while making bracelets just like at camp. You can also fashion key chains and necklaces.
Create crepe paper lanterns to not only represent the day but also to illuminate the evening. Each can hold a candle or a battery-powered light for your deck or front porch.
The art of Japanese paper folding can help you out this year on Independence Day. Create beautiful stars, birds and other decorations for your home or festive gathering.
There are hundreds of printables you can download from the Internet to help kids learn more about the holiday. Tempt them with word searches, crossword puzzles and guessing games. Learn a few colonial games that kids may have played hundreds of years ago like hopscotch, jump rope, three-legged race or rolling the hoop. Perform a skit. Have kids act out a certain scene from the war: Boston Tea Party, British surrender, Paul Revereís ride, crossing the Delaware or any number of others.
Invite your relatives over and enjoy an afternoon laughing and eating. Incorporate the red, white and blue theme into the day. Make the colors present in the food as well as the decorations.
Food ideas: muffins (blueberry, cranberry, cinnamon), fruit kebabs, festive fruit salad, quiche, strawberry/blueberry shortcake and salads.
Lend your backyard to the fun and food of this holiday. Make it a unique celebration by asking guests to dress up in period pieces. See who can guess who you are supposed to be. Host a colonial scavenger hunt to find buried artifacts.
Host a grown-up costume party that evening. Everyone has to come in period dress. Ask them to bring a canned good to donate to the local soup kitchen. Give prizes for the best costume. Serve drinks and food that was served in the 1700s for a more authentic touch.
There may be several community activities going on the day before and the day of the fourth. Most are going to be free so bring the entire family to join in. you can come up with some of your own ideas for your neighborhood to celebrate as well.
Check with the city to see if you need any permits for such an event. Discuss the matter with your neighborhood association (if you have one), to see if the event is allowed. Set up booths for food, games and music. Another idea is to set up an outdoor projector for a movie. Donít forget the popcorn!
Care packages for the troops
The military troops are the ones who have pledged their lives to defend the freedom of our country. Show your gratitude by assembling and sending care packages to them to celebrate Independence Day. Plan ahead so that the packages will arrive around the holiday (this is especially important when sending overseas).
What can you send to the troops? Ideas include: July Fourth t-shirts, goody bags, homemade thank you cards, toiletries, baked goods and the like.
On this day, remember those who have given their lives for the cause of freedom. Lay fresh flowers on military graves as a way of saying thank you. Choose red, white and blue bouquets in keeping with the celebration theme. Some military cemeteries only allow fresh flowers so call and check before purchasing anything.
This year, attend the city parade in costume. Dress your best to show your patriotism. For another twist, enter the parade. If you are a member of a local organization, suggest that you march in the parade this year to commemorate July Fourth.
If you live anywhere near a former battle site, there will probably be a reenactment planned. Get in the spirit of the day and attend the event to see what really went on during the war. It is a great way for people to learn about a specific battle and also to understand history.
Watch a play about the Revolutionary War. Learn how the Founding Fathers came up with the Declaration of Independence. See how the colonies fought the British for this land and their freedom.
Everyone loves fireworks but everyone doesn’t know how to be safe with them. Attend sanctioned community fireworks displays. You can buy sparklers for kids but stay away from the big stuff unless you know what you are doing. One suggestion: Park where you can see the fireworks from your vehicle so you can avoid walking a ways or sitting in traffic when the event is over.
Lend your time to give to others. Serve meals at a local soup kitchen in honor of the holiday.
You donít have to stay where you are to enjoy July Fourth. Travel to other locales to see how they plan on remembering Independence Day.
Enjoy your freedom
Take time to enjoy the beautiful country you live in by spending a day white water rafting or even camping. Venture with family and friends and create a new holiday tradition.
Visit some battle sites
All up and down the east coast are battlegrounds that will probably be holding events. Take a trip to Valley Forge. Visit the battlefield at Antietam, Maryland. Head to Boston and view a reenactment of the Tea Party. Take a ride down the Potomac. Visit the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. See historic Williamsburg, Virginia.
This is a perfect time to see family and spend the holiday together. Make it a long weekend (depending on the day of the week that the holiday falls) and take in some sites.
You can celebrate the holiday in many ways: with family, in the community and while traveling. Here are some ideas to get you started.
How will you be celebrating July Fourth this year? Give the day deeper meaning by starting off with a brief history lesson for your family. Have some traditional food from the time period. Take in a reenactment to make history come alive. Host a neighborhood block party based around patriotism.
There are lots of activities planned in your city or those nearby. Use them as a jumping off point to create a unique celebration of your own.