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The Real Reason We Set off Fireworks on the Fourth of July

Reader's Digest logo Reader's Digest 6/20/2018 Morgan Cutolo
fireworks in the sky © YORIK/Shutterstock

Every Fourth of July, sparkly fireworks illuminate the sky. But, haven’t you always wondered why it’s a tradition to set off explosions of light in the sky on Independence Day? It’s certainly a day for celebration, but why fireworks? Why not just stick to barbeques and all things red, white, and blue? Well, you can thank famous historian John Adams for it.

Before the Declaration of Independence was even signed, John Adams wrote in a letter to his wife that the occasion of America’s freedom '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.' And so, it was.

Related slideshow: 18 Festive DIY Ideas for the Ultimate 4th of July Party (Provided by Country Living)

The first Fourth of July fireworks were set off in 1777 in Pennsylvania and Boston one year after the Declaration of Independence was signed. The Pennsylvania Evening Post reported that 'the evening was closed with the ring of bells, and at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks (which began and concluded with thirteen rockets) on the Commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated.' Boston still has one of the most spectacular fireworks shows on the Fourth—check out the others around the United States.

By 1783, fireworks started to become available to the public and the sky become even more illuminated on the Fourth. The bright colors and loud bangs are the perfect way to celebrate America’s freedom year after year. Next, read up on these interesting facts you never knew about the American flag.

Related video: Officials Offer Fireworks Safety Tips Ahead Of July 4 (Provided by CBS Pittsburgh)



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