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Things You (Probably) Don’t Know About the 4th of July

A public reading the U.S. Declaration of Independence in Boston, Massachusetts July 4, 2013.

This day will be remembered in American history, wrote John Adams in 1776. People will honor it with fireworks and celebrations.

He was talking about the second of July.

That is the day the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence from the British. But the date written on the Declaration of Independence is July 4. So, since 1776, Americans have honored July 4 as the country’s Independence Day.

And July 2? Not so much.

Patriotic to the end

Several early U.S. presidents died on July 4. They include John Adams, who became the second U.S. president, even though he made a mistake about ​the country’s most important national holiday. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the country’s third president, both died on the country’s 50th anniversary of Independence Day.

James Monroe, the country’s fifth president, died on July 4, 1831.

And the country’s 30th president, Calvin Coolidge, was born on July 4.

Amazing? Or disgusting?

Most Americans celebrate Independence Day with barbecues, parades and, yes, fireworks. But a few celebrate by eating all the hot dogs they can.

Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating contest, July 4, 2013
Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating contest, July 4, 2013

Since the early 1970s, a restaurant called Nathan’s Famous has hosted a competition to see who can eat the most hot dogs in a short time. The event is now shown on major sports channels. It includes a women’s contest and a men’s contest. Both are held in New York City, in a part of town called Coney Island.

For the last eight years, a man named Joey Chestnut has won the men’s contest. In 2014, he ate 61 hot dogs in 10 minutes.

The 2014 women’s winner, Miki Sudo, ate 34 hot dogs.

Where do those fireworks come from?

Let’s go back to those fireworks, probably the most common image related to Independence Day. Americans really, really love fireworks. The America n Pyrotechnic Association – “pyrotechnic” is another word for “fireworks” – reported that Americans spent $675 million on fireworks last year.

Fireworks Fireworks during an Independence Day celebration July 4, 2013, in Philadelphia.
Fireworks Fireworks during an Independence Day celebration July 4, 2013, in Philadelphia.

Most ordinary people buy about $100 worth. Cities and towns spend between $5,000 and $30,000 to put on a public show.

The biggest fireworks show is in New York City. It costs about $2 million.

Where do many of our fireworks come from? China.

By the way, we also import most of our American flags from China, too.

Happy Independence Day!

I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.

Kelly Jean Kelly wrote this story for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.


Words in This Story

disgusting adj. so unpleasant that you feel slightly sick

barbecuesn. outdoor meals or parties at which food is cooked on a barbecue

hot dogn. a small cooked sausage

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