:: Happy [belated] 4th of July!

Yes, I am well aware that we're a bit beyond July 4th, but many people here in Poland have asked me what this American holiday is all about. Being that this is my favorite holiday, I LOVE to tell them all about it and I thought my other non-American readers may be interested in hearing about it, too.  If you already know - and love - America's birthday it's ok to skim over this post. But if you don't, keep reading. 
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The Fourth of July, also known as Independence Day, is a national holiday and most everyone has the day off, which makes for a wonderful Summer celebration full of tradition! Some traditions we Americans love most during this holiday include:
  • BBQ Picnics: Nothing says the 4th like a family Bar-B-Que and with a menu like hot dogs, hamburgers, mac and cheese, watermelon, apple pie, beer, lemonade, etc. it's hard to pass up! Also, plenty of checkered tablecloths at my picnics on the 4th:)
  • Red, White and Blue: There are many American flags flying high on America's Independence Day. Along with flags, this color scheme is carried out in most everything -  attire, desserts, decor, etc. There's never too much RW&B today!
  • Fireworks: Throughout the month of July, spectators will gather to watch fireworks light up the sky. Many cities have their own firework displays (oftentimes, taking place before the actual 4th) where many all gather to watch. Individuals also are sure to purchase their own and put on a show for their families or neighborhoods. (Growing up in Michigan, many people drove to Ohio to purchase the "better" fireworks not allowed to be sold in Michigan. I'm not saying this is legal, I am just saying it is done.) Sparklers are also a holiday tradition alongside fireworks. Oh, and there's usually a bonfire or two going on during the fireworks with s'mores (a graham cracker, chocolate and marshmallow sandwich. Of course, the marshmallows are melted in the bonfire. Pretty amazing - I want one just talking about it. 
  • Parades: Many towns no matter the population size also arrange a Fourth of July parade that the family enjoys attending. 
  • The Lakes: OK, this is a Michigan tradition, but EVERYONE finds their way to the lakes during this weekend. Whether they drive "up north" to Traverse City or Mackinac (pronounced Mac-i-naw Island) or stay local on the many inland lakes, in Michigan, the 4th means being on a boat in the water. 
  • Hot Dog Eating Contest: Another tradition taking place in NYC is the Coney Island hot dog eating contest. Yes, this is real; yes, this means people try to eat as many hot dogs in a given time as they can and yes, this makes national news every year :) This year's winner ate 61 hot dogs in 10 minutes. How's that for a tradition?
Overall, the Fourth means being together with your loved ones, being outdoors and remembering all those who serve/d to achieve and maintain independence in the USA. 

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