In the USA, this is Independence Day, a holiday in all states and territories, commemorating the formal adoption of the Continental Congress of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. This historic document claiming independence of the thirteen North American colonies from Great Britain was drafted by Thomas Jefferson, who succeeded John Adams as president of the USA in 1801. Coincidentally, both Jefferson and Adams died on Independence Day in 1826.
The first official celebrations took place in Massachusetts in 1781. By the mid-1800s, the tradition had become widespread and today the day will be marked by public celebrations throughout the USA. Some towns hold traditional celebrations with patriotic speeches and flags. One of the largest 4 July parades takes place in Atlanta, while the oldest continuous celebration takes place in Bristol, Rhode Island. Established in 1785, the festivities include a popular parade and spectacular fireworks display.
Eating is central to one of Coney Island’s 4 July traditions with Nathan’s Famous 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest which has been held there every year since 1916! Contested by the winners of regional qualifying contests throughout the world, plus the defending champion, competitors must eat as many hot dogs as they can in twelve minutes – why twelve!? The record set in 2002 was an astonishing 50.5 by Takeru Kobayashi of Japan. [Any relation to Kamui Kobayashi?….]
The record Takeru set was so unexpected that when he got to the later numbers, the organisers ran out of signs indicating how many dogs he had eaten and had to resort to handwritten signs. Kobayashi went on to break his own record three times and won the contest six consecutive times (2001–2006).
Happy Independence Day! Don’t eat too many hot dogs, eh?!