We all celebrate Fourth of July in our way, but there is a lot more to the holiday than what a lot of us know. There is a lot of superstitions around the holiday and the reason we celebrate.
The 4th of July is the day Americans celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the document that declares the United States independent of Great Britain and explains their reasons for so doing. However, that the Declaration of Independence was signed on the 4th July 1776 is a myth rather than a fact.
The truth is that a resolution declaring independence, which had been proposed by Richard Henry Lee earlier in June 1776, was passed on the 2nd July, 1776. Therefore, the 2nd of July 1776 is the date on which the United States legally cut itself off from Great Britain through a Resolution by the Continental Congress. The Declaration of Independence is, strictly speaking, the document in which the Continental Congress explained why the United States had declared itself independent.
Congress had appointed a Committee to be in charge of drafting the Declaration of Independence, and it was this Committee that in turn entrusted Thomas Jefferson with the mandate of preparing the Declaration. After Thomas Jefferson prepared the Declaration, two members of the Committee made some alterations to it. That the 2nd of July is the most significant day in American history is attested to by the fact that on the 3rd July 1776, John Adams wrote the following words to his wife:
“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch 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 shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
The Declaration of Independence was approved and adopted by Congress on the 4th July, 1776. Contrary to myth, it was not signed on the 4th July. The Declaration of Independence was signed by 56 members, including John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both of whom later became Presidents of the United States. In a strange turn of events, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the 4th July of the same year, 1826. Most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence signed in on the 2nd August 1776, and some even later than that date.
“So what happened on the Glorious Fourth? The document justifying the act of Congress-you know it as Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence-was adopted on the fourth, as is indicated on the document itself, which is, one supposes, the cause for all the confusion. As one scholar has observed, what has happened is that the document announcing the event has overshadowed the event itself. “
According to research “(m)ost delegates signed the document on August 2, when a clean copy was finally produced by Timothy Matlack, assistant to the secretary of Congress. Several did not sign until later. And their names were not released to the public until later still, January 1777. The event was so uninspiring that nobody apparently bothered to write home about it. ..The truth about the signing was not finally established until 1884 when historian Mellon Chamberlain, researching the manuscript minutes of the journal of Congress, came upon the entry for August 2 noting a signing ceremony.”
Therefore, that the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4th, 1776, and that Independence was declared on the 4th July are two great American myths.
Another July 4th superstition is that the Liberty Bell Rang on the 4th July. According to this superstition, ” a young boy with blonde hair and blue eyes was supposed to have been posted in the street next to Independence Hall to give a signal to an old man in the bell tower when independence was declared. It never happened. The story was made up out of whole cloth in the middle of the nineteenth century by writer George Lippard in a book intended for children. The book was aptly titled, Legends of the American Revolution.
There was no pretense that the story was genuine.” The Liberty Bell does exist in Philadelphia, but it has nothing to do with the Declaration of Independence. “If you visit the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, encased in a multi-million dollar shrine… a tape recording made by the National Park Service leaves the impression that the bell indeed played a role in American independence. ..The guides are more forthcoming, though they do not expressly repudiate the old tradition unless directly asked a question about it.”
There is also a superstition that Betsy Ross sewed the First Flag. Her house is a few blocks from Liberty Bell. However, “there is no proof Betsy lived here, as the Joint State Government Commission of Pennsylvania concluded in a study in 1949… Every year the throngs still come to gawk.” The story is said to have been concocted by Betsy’s relatives. The truth is that no one knows who sewed the first flag, although it is known that it was designed by Frances Hopkins. Another great superstition about the 4th of July is that when John Adams died, he uttered the words “Jefferson survives”. The truth is that Jefferson died hours before John Adams.
In Chinese culture, there is a superstition that the number 4 symbolizes death. Because of the superstition, many Chinese high rise buildings do not have floors with the number 4. Superstitions, of course, are irrational believe, but one has to be amazed at some things that have happened on the 4th Of July. First, both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on the 4th of July. Yet another US president, died on the 4th July too, in 1831. Other 4th of July deaths include Pope Saint Leo 11 who died in 683, 380 people who died of a heat wave in 1911 in the North east of the US, and Barry White, a famous singer who died in 2003.
There is also a superstition that sipping hot tea and eating scones on the 4th of July is a bad omen. However, remember that sipping hot tea and eating scones is an English tradition. Isn’t it obvious why the practice should be discouraged on the 4th July? Americans might, as well, also want to avoid French Fries and French beans on 4th July. Not only are those foods European as their name suggests, one of them is also unhealthy! Finally, in North Carolina, there is a superstition that turnip seed should be planted on the 4th July.
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