The long holiday weekend has us wondering about some of the customs that accompany the Fourth of July.
Here are some points to ponder as you celebrate.
1. Have a hot dog ... Have you ever wondered why wieners are sold in packs of 10, while buns come in packs of eight? The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council says wiener makers settled on 10 to a pack in the 1940s. Meanwhile, bakers were creating buns in pans designed to hold eight. The disparate numbers have remained the standard — with little apparent negative effect on hot dogs' popularity. Americans will enjoy more than 150 million hot dogs at their Fourth of July picnics, according to Insider magazine.
2. Or a hamburger. Last year, USA Today reported that Americans consume about 375 million hamburgers for the Fourth. And if you take yours with cheese, you know that the cheese goes on top of the burger, right? That's the way most people build a cheeseburger, according to a survey of 1,000 people from coast to coast, reported by furniture and appliance maker RTA Outdoor Living, but the results were not unanimous. The survey found that 15% put their cheese under the burger.
3. Shoot your fireworks. Americans flock to fireworks shows to end their Fourth of July celebrations. According to History.com, the earliest reported celebrations, in 1776, involved cannons, muskets, bonfires and even mock funeral services for King George III, from whom America had just declared its independence. Fireworks marked the observance the next year, and have been going strong more than 200 years. The American Pyrotechnics Association reports that 385.8 million pounds of consumer fireworks were purchased last year, compared to 248.9 million pounds in 2019. That 55% increase is attributed to the coronavirus pandemic. As organized shows were canceled, consumers purchased unprecedented amounts of fireworks to shoot off at home, resulting in a shortage of consumer-grade fireworks this year.
4. Fly your flag. If you proudly fly your flag on the Fourth of July, remember that there's a certain etiquette to it. According to the VFW, the Federal Flag Code states that it's the "universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness."
5. Take the day off. The Fourth of July has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941. Because the date falls on a Sunday this year, the holiday will be observed on Monday, July 5. John Adams, who would become the second president after serving as vice president under George Washington, predicted July 2 would be the day of celebration because it was on July 2, 1776, that delegates at the Second Continental Congress voted to separate the 13 American colonies from Britain. He made this prediction in a July 3 letter to his wife Abigail:
The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.
Instead, "the great anniversary Festival" became July 4, when the Declaration of Independence was adopted (though not signed).
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