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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Little Known Facts about the Fourth of July

Little Known Facts about the Fourth of July

The Real Independence Day?
The Declaration of Independence was announced on July 4th, though the formal signing didn’t occur until August 2nd, and the colonies actually voted to accept it on July 2nd. So you may wonder – what day is the real Independence Day?

John Adams, who first proposed the idea of declaring independence from England, wrote a famous letter to his wife, Abigail, about how he believed July 2nd would be a day that was remembered and celebrated in America for years to come. Apparently everyone else remembered otherwise…

Old Glory
Did you know, that there have been 28 versions of the U.S flag to date, and that the most recent one, designed after Alaska and Hawaii joined the union, was the result of a school project? Robert Heft was 17 when he came up with the flag design in 1958. He originally got a B- on the project, but when his pattern won the national competition to become the next flag, his teacher raised his grade to an A.

A Patriotic Death?
Three American presidents have died on the fourth of July. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on the same day, in 1826. They had been rivals in everything, even about who would live longest. Adams’ last words were about his long-time foe: “Thomas Jefferson lives!” In fact, Jefferson had died just five hours earlier, but Adams hadn’t gotten the message. James Monroe is the third president to die on July 4th, but he died in 1831.

And the Rockets’ Red Glare…
Fireworks and parades have long-since been a staple in Independence Day celebrations. In that same letter of John Adams about celebrating on July 2nd, he wrote that the day

“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.” And so colonists celebrated the fourth even before they knew if they would win the war, setting off fireworks July 4th, 1777. Fireworks were further popularized in the late 1700s by politicians that had displays at their speeches, and they became a firmly established tradition by the 1800s.

It is also said, that fireworks displays were used as morale boosters for soldiers in the Revolutionary war. At the time however, fireworks were the same type of explosives used in war and were called rockets, not fireworks.

Canada Day
Called “Dominion Day” until 1982, Canada Day does not mark independence, but instead the creation of Canada. It began in 1868, recognizing the union of the British territories the Province of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. Canadians celebrate the day on July 1st with picnics, fireworks and parades. July 1st is also celebrated as the national holiday Moving Day, the date in Canada when most leases start and end.

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.