July 4th or Independence Day, is a big holiday in the U.S., traditionally filled with barbeques and fireworks, and if you live near the ocean, trips to the beach. For many of us in the middle Atlantic region of the U.S., that may mean a trip to Washington D.C., or to the Statue of Liberty. But what if you’re an expat living outside of the US? Well, when I lived out of the country, we still did barbeques to celebrate, it was just on a much smaller scale because you lived in a country that didn’t celebrate the 4th of July. So whether you’re an expat, military personnel or just happen to be out of the country, there are a few places outside the U.S. to celebrate! Since most of us will be out enjoying the weekend, I’ll make this a short post! Have a great 4th of July wherever you are!
Founded by African Americans, many of them freed slaves, Liberia celebrates the 4th of July in addition to its own independence day – July 26 - representing the ongoing close relationship between the two countries. The Liberian constitution and flag were even modeled after those of the U.S. Today, the U.S. embassy in the capital of Monrovia (named for President James Monroe - more on Monroe below) hosts July 4th festivities that include traditional American foods like Philly cheese steaks and salmon cakes.
Okay, okay, so I combined these, but only because they have the same sponsor. Hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce, or AmCham, the celebration in Moscow includes everything from classic cars to Elvis impersonators. AmCham also sponsors a similar celebration for expats in Shanghai, featuring activities found in typical hometown fairs like pie eating contests, tug of war, and the ever popular three-legged race!
The Rebild National Park, hosts what else? Rebildfesten – that celebrates a combination of American independence and Danish heritage. The park was established by a group of Danish Americans, and eventually the 200 acres were deeded to the King of Denmark with the condition that the land would remain undeveloped and be used to celebrate American holidays.
A number of cruise lines celebrate Independence Day. Some feature music, line dancing, drink specials, and American style buffets.
And, before you head out to enjoy the holiday, here are four fun facts about the 4th of July!
1. The Continental Congress voted in favor of a resolution of independence on July 2, but didn’t formally adopt it until July 4. So, I guess we could technically celebrate independence on July 2, too?
2. The youngest person to sign the Declaration of Independence was Thomas Lynch, Jr. of South Carolina. He was 27 years old. The oldest person to sign was Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania. He was 70.
3. President Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4, 1872, while Presidents John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe all died on July 4th. Adams and Jefferson died within hours of each other.
4. The 4th of July Parade in Bristol, Rhode Island, is the oldest continuous Independence Day celebration in the United States. It began in 1785! Wow!
Here are two bonus facts!
In 1782 the bald eagle was chosen to symbolize the United States of America, because it represented long life and strength. That Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national symbol is apparently a myth. In a letter to his daughter two years AFTER the bald eagle was chosen, Franklin wrote that he thought it looked too much like a turkey. From there, the story took on a life of its own. Go figure!
July 4th didn’t actually become an official Federal holiday until 1870 and it didn’t become a Federal paid holiday until 1941!