Top 10 Best July 4th Traditions & Celebrations

Raise your flags up high! Whether you’re a drinker or a daredevil, there are multiple ways people choose to celebrate independence. However, there’s no doubting that some are more notable than others. Here are 10 of the most iconic (if not the strangest) 4th of July traditions of all time.

Lobster Racing

Three Lobsters

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Starting off the list is one of the best practices Maine offers- lobster racing. The state is so overwhelmed with lobsters that this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Crustacean athletics have never been as interesting as they are now.

The contest has been a tradition for quite some time now, coming to be in 1978 as one of many fundraisers for Mount Desert Island YMCA. Not much of a competitor yourself? Don’t worry, the event is quite inclusive. There’s a large gambling aspect in place, and race attendees are encouraged to place bets on their favorite Parsons lobster.


2. Hot Dog Eating Contests

Nathan's 2016 Hot Dog Eating Contest

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Nothing is quite as American as competing to see who can stuff the most hotdogs down in one go. An important 4th of July Event, people often go to spectate 2019 Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island.

The event has quite a comprehensive history- the story goes that on July 4th, 1916, four immigrants hosted a hot-dog eating contest to see who was the most patriotic.

It has since been sanctioned by Major League Eating (MLE) since 1997, meaning that only those currently under contract by MLE are allowed to compete.

While the exclusivity of this event shouldn’t discourage you from hosting your own, always proceed with caution. That being said, who knows- you just might be the next Joey Chestnut.


3. Drinking Games

Ball rolling on top of a triangular beer pong formation.

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Forget beer pong and truth or drink- why not let the fireworks be your guide?

While not unique to the 4th of July, there’s always something special the holiday spirit does that makes drinking a vital part of any celebration. Many use this time especially to bring all sorts of new drinking games to the table.

An example of this would be arranging your beer pong in the shape of the American flag. Or perhaps you’d try taking a sip of your drink every time a certain firework color appears.

If these festivities aren’t for you, you could always make the holiday an excuse to kick back and relax with a nice cold drink in hand.


4. Water Gun Fights

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This one doesn’t need all that much of an explanation. The 4th of July is smack-dab in the middle of summer, so people are obviously going to want to cool themselves off. Why not make it fun?


5. Parades and Festivals

4th of July parade with balloons

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A lot goes on during the 4th of July, and there always seems to be a festival for everyone going on. There’s marching bands, cheerleaders, horses- honestly, what’s there not to love?
As could probably be implied by Maine’s lobster competition, each state has its own share of unique traditions. That being said, you’re bound to find a cool festival near wherever you happen to be!


6. Lighting Things Up

Bright lit sparkler

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When people think of independence, the image of fireworks and colorful skies often come to mind. Indeed- these all represent the beauty of a free America, as well as all else that comes with it.¬† There’s a reason why people say the fun begins when the sun sets.

But don’t think that the fun stops with fireworks. In some states, like Massachusetts, it is illegal for private citizens to own and use fireworks. As a result, many other people have their own spin on ‘lighting things up’. To some, this may mean something as simple as lighting up a couple of sparklers. To others, this may be their annual opportunity to break out the smoke bombs. However you slice it, there’s no questioning that no 4th of July celebration is ever complete without some organized chaos.


7. Barbecues and bonfires

Man barbecuing over a grill

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Food seems to be a recurring theme in most 4th of July celebrations. The reason for this should be obvious; who doesn’t love food?

I bet you already have that picture in your head- a bunch of tables out at the backyard with burgers, hot dogs, and sorts of sweet things piled up on top of them. On any other day, these would be totally normal-tasting. But on the 4th of July, they’re absolute delicacies.

However, there’s that special kind of food that always hits the spot during Independence Day. From the classic meats during the afternoon to s’mores over the fire at night, nothing sets the mood like outdoor treats fresh off the grill.


8. Athletics

Rodeo on the 4th of July

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Some of the first activities that come to mind whenever people think of the 4th of July would most definitely include sports. But while Baseball and football may be American favorites, many other outdoor activities have come to be associated with this holiday.

Rodeos and yachting may seem to come from two completely different ways of life, but they’re both a great show of patriotism (apparently).

That being said, it’s easy to get lost in the heat of all the action. Some people might want to take a calmer approach to the 4th of July. A light cruise across the water with some music in the background may be just what you need this time of year.


9. Showing your patriotism

Old woman wearing a red, white, and blue ensemble

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Whether you love being American or not, you can at the very least agree that being patriotic is totally fun. What’s even more fun is seeing people come up with some of the most ridiculous ways to show their national pride.

Let’s face it- we all have those clothes that only ever make their appearance for the 4th of July. Red, white, and blue are the colors that have appropriately been trademarked by this event. There’s no holding back for Independence Day- that would totally defeat the purpose. This is one of the only times in the year where you’ll be excuse for looking completely ridiculous.

Those who choose not to dress up may choose to express their creativity in different ways. Ice cream making, for instance, is a pretty popular activity in some circles.


10. Giving back

T3hree Air Force veterans smiling for the camera

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Fun and games aside, it’s always a good idea to remember the values the holiday was built on. For this coming 4th of July, you might want to take a step back and reflect.

Think of everything that has made America what it is- both the good and the bad. Think of the people that make it possible for you to enjoy your freedom today. Go to a museum. Volunteer to help out veterans. Spend some time learning more about America’s history.

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