Happy 4th of July, America!

A Very Special Day Not Only in the United States of America

Every country has a special day of celebration of their birth as an independent nation. Costa Rica, for instance, received its independence from Spain on September 15th, 1821. In America, July 4th, 1776, is celebrated as the day the original 13 colonies* claimed their independence from the British Empire. In fact, the day celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Second Continental Congress.

Commonly known as the Fourth of July or July Fourth, Independence Day is celebrated with all sorts of events: family reunions, fireworks, barbecues, parades, fairs, historical reenactments, picnics, concerts, baseball games, speeches, and other ceremonies.

One of the many July 4th Renactments
One of the many July 4th Reenactments


Perhaps the most well-known way Americans celebrate their Day is by setting off and watching fireworks displays. Fireworks have become a tradition since the early days after the independence. John Adams, one of the Founding fathers thought fireworks were appropriate to commemorate the birth of the nation. Adams wrote, ” [it] ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other…”.

American ways of celebrating the Independence Day
American ways of celebrating the Independence Day
  • The original 13 were: Delaware, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts Bay Colony (which included Maine), New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and the Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. They became the first states of the new country.
  • To honor the original 13 colonies, on every 4th of July, the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia is tapped (not rung) 13 times.
  • Across the U.S. there are around 15,000 Independence Day fireworks celebrations every year. To cater to the demand, millions of dollars worth of fireworks are imported from China.
  • On July 4th, 1778, George Washington ordered his soldiers to be given a double ration of rum to celebrate it.
  • The first official 4th of July party was held at the White House in 1801.
  • Denmark, England, Norway, Portugal, and Sweden also celebrate the date as a way to attract American tourists.
  • On this day, Americans eat almost 2 million hot dogs each year. For instance, there is the Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, New York. This event has been held there since 1916. The winner gets awarded a Mustard Belt.
  • Several patriotic songs such as the “Star-Spangled Banner (the national anthem), “America the Beautiful,” “God Bless America,” and “My Country,” are usually part of the celebration.
  • The most popular holiday drink is beer. America consumes more than US$ 1 billion worth of the beverage over the Fourth of July weekend.
  • In New England, eating poached salmon with egg sauce and peas is a tradition for the day.
  • Celebrated on the holiday, the Peachtree Road Race is the world’s largest 10-kilometer race. More than 60,000 runners hit the Atlanta streets.
  • New York City is home to the Macy’s 4th of July Firework show. It is held along the East River in Midtown Manhattan. The firework display of more than 60,000 shells is choreographed to a musical score.

In Costa Rica

The celebrations of the independence of the United States are not only held on American soil. Costa Rica also joins the events of the commemoration of July 4th According to the U.S. State Department around 70,000 Americans live in the country, which has long been a retirement haven for many American expats. Most of them are attracted by Costa Rica’s biodiversity, tropical beaches, political stability, and relatively low-cost health care services.

This large community has kept the tradition of recreating Independence Day events. In the beginning, almost 60 years ago, the festivities used to be held at the U.S. Embassy in San José, with a party at the Ambassador’s house.

As the American community outgrew the premises, they decided to create the American Colony Committee (ACC). For many years this non-profit organization has been in charge of hosting the event at Cervecería Costa Rica in Alajuela, 20 kilometers from San José, on General Cañas Highway.

Many hotels and restaurants have prepared special dishes and have several activities ready.

  • Starting at 4:00 pm, 205 Plaza on Avenida Escazú near San José, offers a live concert with Boris Terrasson (DJ Sweetbo), actor and musician Kurt Dyer and rock band Mustang 65, an old cars parade and a fireworks show.
  • Near Quepos and Manuel Antonio National Park on the Central Pacific side, Marina Pez Vela offers activities like face painting, games, square dancing, a live concert with rock drummer Kin Rivera Jr., and of course, a pyrotechnics display. The celebration starts at 3:00 pm.

So, if you are in Costa Rica this 4th of July, you will surely find plenty of parties, barbeques, and fireworks to attend to, all of them with a touch of the host country’s Pura Vida attitude. Enjoy!

SOURCEGilberto Barrera
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