Note: As with Memorial Day, I'm aware that Independence Day (on the Fourth of July) is a U.S. holiday, but I know other countries have similar holidays, so I figured people everywhere can relate. I also tried to pick qualities that aren't specific to America. If anything, they're more season-specific.
Here's the list:
- It's a holiday for everybody. Almost everyone gets off work on Independence Day and most businesses are closed. It makes the day feel extra special and celebratory, and there are only a few holidays where this is the case.
- It's affordable. Unless you're hosting a giant party, you won't spend a fortune on Independence Day. You can spend what you want on food and drink, of course, but it's often less than what you'll spend on other large meal or gift holidays, like Easter and Thanksgiving. And if you like holidays that don't dent your wallet, Independence Day entertainment will suit you just fine, with free fireworks in the evening.
- The time of year. Falling in the first few days of July, Independence Day arrives right as the summer festival season blossoms. Where I reside, in the Buffalo/Niagara region, whenever the fourth approaches, I know other great summer events are coming, like the Friendship Festival (a celebration between Fort Erie, Ontario and Buffalo, NY), Shakespeare In Delaware Park, and various ethnic and cultural festivals, including the Taste of Buffalo, the Buffalo Italian Heritage Festival, and the Canal Fest of the Tonawandas.
- Outdoor Gatherings. Take a moment and think how you've previously spent the day on Independence Day. Chances are, you've enjoyed time at barbecues, picnics, beaches, parks, backyard parties, and consumed all manner of delicious food and spirits. Independence Day lends itself to fun, outdoor gatherings like no other holiday.
- Summer movies and drive-ins. If Memorial Day kicks off the summer movie season, by Independence Day, we're in the thick of it, and by the fourth we typically have a nice selection of big-budget action films and easy summer fare to choose from. One year on the fourth, we actually got one of the schlockiest summer movies of them all, Independence Day (you remember). Of course, since the weather is so warm by the fourth, you can take in a movie in air-conditioned comfort or make a long night of it at the drive-in.
- Work shutdowns and vacations. Many companies still have summer shutdowns during the week of July 4th, prompting a number of employees to take vacations. This gives the week of the holiday some extra buoyancy, as more people are out of work, on vacation, less stressed, and generally happier.
- True Summer holiday. Independence Day is our only holiday that's pure summer. That is, it's right in the gut of summer. For those of us who love the season, early July is a wonderful time, with over two months of boundless summer still ahead.
- Party. Let's all be honest, for a moment. Independence Day is a great day for summer parties and responsible consumption. This isn't to say that there isn't a lot of drinking going on during other holidays, and of course nothing can top New Year's Eve for sheer partying and holiday carousing, but Independence Day is different. It's warm and you can drink in the sun, in your backyard or on the beach, and parties often stretch out through the day and into the evening.
- Fireworks. As Chandler Bing might say, "Fireworks are cool and you know it!" Yes, you know it, I know it, we all know it. There are bottle rockets, lady fingers, M-80s, sparklers, just to name a few. I loved watching fireworks when I was a kid, and I expect I always will.
- The Birth of a Nation. Ultimately, the best case for Independence Day may be that it's a celebration of our country and a reminder of how our freedoms were won and why it's so important to preserve them.
Happy Independence Day, everyone.