You are probably seeing colorful fireworks when night falls and wondering what are people celebrating. You probably are having a lack of sleep from hearing fireworks while going to bed and wondering if there is a commemoration of celebration. Well, stop wondering – What is being celebrated is the Independence Day of the United States of America, commonly known as the Fourth of July.

It is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain.

The Fourth of July is a national holiday marked by patriotic displays. Similar to other summer-themed events, Independence Day celebrations often take place outdoors. Independence Day is a federal holiday where most businesses and government entities are closed on that day. When I came to the U.S., I always wondered why there were so many fireworks, besides for the fact that it is a display of celebration. My friends could not tell me much besides the fact that firework shows are held in many states, and many fireworks are sold for personal use or as an alternative to a public show. Safety concerns have led some states to ban fireworks or limit the sizes and types allowed.

Families often celebrate Independence Day by hosting or attending a picnic or barbecue and take advantage of the day off and, in some years, long weekends to gather with relatives. Decorations (e.g., streamers, balloons, and clothing) are generally colored red, white, and blue, the colors of the American flag, again describing the patriotism within the American culture. Parades are often in the morning, while fireworks displays occur in the evening at such places as parks, fairgrounds, or town squares.

From my personal experience, I have been invited to my American friend’s family where all the cultural aspects were celebrated. In addition, the food and games were typically American. For lunch and dinner, we were served some corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, potato salad, hot dogs, hamburgers, baked beans, watermelon, lemonade, and ice tea. As for the games, they were very entertaining. We got to play cornhole (bean bag toss), baseball, horseshoes, play catch, bocce ball (photo on the left), and the ladder game set.

The Fourth of July is indeed a festive holiday where citizens of the United States celebrate their independence!

Bocce Ball Photo Credit  Fireworks Photo Credit – Laura B. Wise

Mark Chung Kwan Fan is a first-year international graduate student from the island of Mauritius. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Student Affairs and Administration at MSU’s College of Education. His interests vary from Latin American culture to student affairs in the context of international education. Mark also serves as Orientation Intern at the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS).