Fizzle for Freedom!

By Shamus
on Jul 5, 2009
Filed under:
Movies

Fireworks (by which I mean real, honest, red-blooded, all-American, blow-off-your-fingers fireworks) are illegal in my home state of Pennsylvania. So we celebrate our throwing off of an oppressive regime by obeying the clucking of a pedantic and infantile bureaucracy. We do this by holding sparklers a safe distance from our eyes and being careful not to inhale any smoke from those little black snake things. If irony were flammable, we could celebrate the 4th of July with a mushroom cloud big enough to be seen all the way over in Philadelphia.

Actually, most people in my area drive over the border and buy their real fireworks from those dangerous arms dealers in Ohio, where they are still allowed to recklessly sell you the forbidden secrets of fire.

James Lileks takes a look at some common fireworks packaging:

It hurts because it’s true. And also because I have third degree sparkler burns.

Happy 4th of July to my fellow Americans. To our Canadian friends: Sorry about missing Canada day. Hope you had a great one as well.

To everyone else: What is the big nation-specific holiday you celebrate in your country, and is blowing things up part of the tradition?

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  1. Shamus says:

    Actually, no sparkler burns. I celebrated the 4th by throwing my back out and subsequently snoozing the day away in the warm embrace of painkillers.

    Nice weather, though.

  2. SolkaTruesilver says:

    The Saint-Jean-Baptiste (24th of June), is the National Holiday for Quebec. We usually have a great celebration either with a free show in Quebec City and Montreal (and all around Quebec), fireworks, beer and a huge fire.

    I’d say it’s probably pretty close to USA’s 4th of July. Except that we also sometimes used the 24th for political manifestation/repression during the 60-70-80s

  3. Mark says:

    I worked most of the day, getting up at 8am, going for breakfast with my folks, then starting work at 11, taking half an hour for lunch around 3, and finishing around 8. Fun fun fun…

  4. Rhys Aronson says:

    We celebrate Australia Day on January 26th here in Australia (funnily enough).

    Its a time for barbecues, beer and seeing good friends mostly. Oh an there is usually a massive concert on the weekend.

    In fact its more of a celebratory 3 day weekend than just 1 day.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australia_Day

  5. Happy 4th of July! And so sorry to learn that your day was spent hopped-up on painkillers.

    Embarrassing Question: How do I access the TeamFortress2 servers on Steam? I just bought TF2, but can’t for the life of me figure out how to start a game using one of the TwentySided servers. I can see the list of available servers (which is often quite large), but I can never find OUR server.

    What’s the secret?

    Leslee

    • Shamus says:

      Leslee Beldotti: If you page through that HUGE list, you will *eventually* find the servers, but that’s the hard way.

      The common way is to enable the console, press the tilde key, and then type:

      connect 208.167.245.178

      Which is the IP for Lawful.

      That should take you right into the game.

      Good luck!

  6. Alarion says:

    Here in Germany we have the German Unity Day (3rd of October), but it’s really not as big as the Independence Day. No fireworks (they’re only legal at New Year), and we don’t go all out and frollic in the meadows (or streets or whatever general makeup one’s home has). Maybe we need a couple of hundred years like you Americans to really appreciate the date.

  7. Xavin says:

    We don’t really have a national holiday in the UK. There are the 8 public holidays in England & Wales – New Years Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Early Spring bank holdiay (1st Monday in May), Spring bank holiday (last Monday in May), Summer bank holiday (last Monday in August), Christmas Day, and Boxing Day. Scotland adds Jan 2nd to New Year, drops Easter Monday, and moves the Summer bank holiday to the 1st Monday in August. (None of which constitute any sort of national day). Northern Ireland has the same as England & Wales, and adds St Patrick’s day (March 17th) and the Battle of the Boyne (July 12th, or following Monday if that falls on a weekend) – either of which are probably the closest that anywhere in the UK comes to a National Day.

    There are a number of suggestions for adding some sort of “British Day” but no-one can really agree on what it should be (Wikipedia can probably fill you in on the details)

    Our national “blowing stuff up” celebration is Guy Fawkes’ Day, a.k.a. Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night, on November 5th where we commemorate a failed plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605 (whether we’re commemorating the idea, or the fact that it failed is left to your imagination…). It’s not a public holiday, but we do light bonfires and set off fireworks – in theory just on the 5th (or the nearest Saturday for most of the pubic displays), but in practice for several days (or a couple of weeks…) either side.

  8. Edtopia says:

    @ Leslee:

    To make a specific server easy to find, the best way is to open the server browser to the ‘Favorites’ tab and click ‘Add a server’. Then, you can add in the server you want by its IP. There should be a favorites tab on the in-game server browser as well, and you can find the added servers there.

  9. Civilis says:

    Oddly enough, I spent this July 4th in Pennsylvania, watching the local fireworks. While the town I was in had a wonderful professional fireworks display, it was preceded by more than two hours of civic-minded volunteer fireworks, almost certainly not of the legal variety. I could see four mortar / rocket launch sites from where I was sitting, and could hear at least two others, all within a quarter of a mile. Each site fired off a minimum of a dozen shots, probably significantly more. I’m certain the police officer and the two fire chiefs I could see from my seat could see the same locations.

  10. Rutskarn says:

    I spent half of my holiday drawing presidents with cyborg implants. Then I remembered it was July 4th.

    Anyway, fireworks are also illegal in California, but with good reason. There’s kind of this tendency, out here, for a quarter of the state to go up in flames every time someone says the word “fire” in too harsh a voice.

  11. Narkis says:

    Here in Greece we have the Ohi Day (Ohi=No) in October 28th, where we celebrate the rejection of Italy’s demands and our entering WW2 back in 1941, and our own Independence day on March 25th, where we celebrate our independence from the Ottoman Empire.

    The only official celebration for both of them is a parade, but there are a few parts of the country that celebrate the latter with copious amounts of fireworks. Every year sensationalist reporters try to paint these customs as barbaric and dangerous, and there are calls to ban them, mostly from those who’ve never participated in one. Until the matter cycles out of the news and is forgotten for the rest of the year.

  12. Cuthalion says:

    I live in an area with three small cities all right next to each other (and blurring together). Fireworks were banned in my city, but I’m not sure about the other two. In any case, we went to a friend’s house who lives at the top of a hill and watched fireworks from there.

    One of the cities has an official fireworks show which was pretty cool and we could see it from there. There were also a ton of (mostly illegal) fireworks all around. I don’t think the laws are strictly enforced. :P

    It was fun.

    My friend had blown up a pound of black powder the other day. His buddy taped it from a safe distance, but he himself almost got killed because the fuse was too short. Lit it, started running, then the rocks in front of him light up and he’s still only a few feet away. Said he felt quite the heat wave, but fortunately wasn’t hit by any flying chunks of stuff.

    He also bought half a stick of dynamite from one of the reservations*. He got on a seado or something, put it in a bottle or something, and tossed it on the water. He was disappointed that it sank. Figuring that it wasn’t gonna go off, he started heading away. Then it went off from under water and made a huge crater of water. Wish he had caught that on video, and it’s a good thing he didn’t stay next to it.

    *In the US, there are many small areas dotted throughout the country designated as “Indian Reservations”. Native Americans can live there and don’t have to follow a lot of the laws, as they’re sort of considered kind of their own country. (They also don’t pay taxes, I think.) Due to this status, they’ve cashed in on the fireworks market, selling otherwise illegal explosive goodies to us Americans who can’t get them anywhere else.

  13. Gandaug says:

    Refinery Fire clearly said Refiners Fire.

  14. Yamael says:

    It’s more local than national, but in Valencia in Spain we have a celebration where fire and gunpowder are the stars. From the first to the 19th of March we celebrate the “Fallas”, and you can buy and play with all the firecrackers you want.

    Each day at 2pm there’s a big show of extremely noisy (as in, you can feel the buildings shake) fireworks in front of the town hall, and during the last six days there are firework shows every night after midnight.

    For an example of the 2pm show, you can watch this video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0ktgLNFdJ8
    The metter on the top left corner shows the decibel level in the square.

    Those last days we put some wooden satirical structures in every square and street of the city where they fit (and some even where they don’t fit) and burn them all down on the night of the 19th.

  15. Zukhramm says:

    The worst thing about fireworks is that they’re so expensive. Might aswell burn the money itself instead.

    The National Day of Sweden generally passes mostly uncelebrated every year.

  16. Papo says:

    September 18-19th, National Week, Chile. We celebrate on 18th the Independence and on 19th the Triumphs of the Army. Basically it’s a week where you eat a lot of food, drink a lot of wine and sleep a lot. Pretty neat in my opinion.

  17. Fon says:

    I think a lot of people know, but in China we play with firecracker to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

    I personally don’t like it, too noisy.

  18. Vladius says:

    You would all get mad if I mentioned the phrase “American Exceptionalism,” so I won’t.

    Oh, wait.

    Happy 4th of July!

  19. Adeon says:

    @Rutskarn, Fireworks aren’t illegal in all of California, you can legally buy them in some places. I live in the Tri-Valley area and while Pleasanton and Livermore ban fireworks Dublin allows the sale of them.

  20. Yar Kramer says:

    I celebrated the Fourth of July by listening to the version of the 1812 Overture from the V for Vendetta soundtrack on Youtube, and hiding in my room with the windows closed so as to filter out the various music and stuff that was going on pretty much outside them (I live in a single-room apartment adjacent to the town’s central square).

  21. Maddy says:

    In Massachusetts, you can’t even have sparklers or those snake things. I don’t think you can even have those little plastic champagne bottle thingies where you pull the string and a very tiny pop of an explosion blows out some streamers. It’s ridiculous.

  22. edcalaban says:

    I spent the weekend at a lake in Missouri. The biggest stuff we had were the mortars about the size of one and a half eggs. Our neighbors, however, had some seriously massive fireworks. We spent most of our time watching the explosions.

    Well, I had a geeky moment and tried to figure out the actual distance of the fireworks based on the time it took the bang to reach us, but hey.

  23. R4byde says:

    Happy, belated, Fourth of July from Washington State! Where fireworks of all kinds are legal and ultra-cheap from the reservations! (It has always struck me as oddly ironic that the people who make properly celebrating my lovely country’s independence easily affordable, are the same ones who were steamrolled just a few decades after it occurred.) Yesterday was, pardon the horrid pun, a blast. :)

  24. Telas says:

    I live in Austin, TX. Fireworks are banned in Austin, especially now because of the drought.

    Well, to be specific, my address is Austin, but I live in the next county to the north, Williamson County. We’re in a cul-de-sac in an unincorporated subdivision, and the county doesn’t have the authority to ban fireworks.

    So every year for the Fourth of July and New Year’s, my neighbors and I each drop a Benjamin or so on some mortars, multi-shot cubes, fountains, sparklers and Roman candles for the kids, etc, and “release hell” in the cul-de-sac.

    I honestly don’t think I could live in one of those Yankee states where this kind of thing is outlawed.

  25. Mike says:

    here in mexico we celebrate the dia de la independencia(independence day) on the night of september 15 to the morning of september 16 we buy fireworks in big quantities (non of them are banned) and make a lot of noise (well, at least my family does so)

  26. Pickly says:

    I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary (Most holidays to me are pretty much ignored, except for thanksgoving and Christmas), except play a bit of team fortress.

    Also, if anyone is in the mood for a really pointless argument, you could argue about whether independence day should be July 4th, or whichever date the colonies and England actually signed the treaty (Or perhaps the date of one of the last battles of the war), since declaring doesn’t mean much until it’s won, etc…..

    (not an argument with me in particular, since the day doesn’t mean all that much personally, but just for the heck of it if someone happens to be around who likes such an argument.)

  27. Kirk says:

    “Actually, most people in my area drive over the border and buy their real fireworks from those dangerous arms dealers in Ohio, where they are still allowed to recklessly sell you the forbidden secrets of fire.”

    Really? Then why do us Ohioans go to Indiana for fireworks? Maybe it’s just my county where the cool stuff is banned. It’s all stupid anyway. I have yet to here of anyone EVER being busted at their home for shooting off illegal fireworks. I guess they just want us to make a real effort if we insist on blowing ourselves up.

  28. I celebrate the 4th of July by watching 1776. It’s all about a musical about the Declaration. (sample) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYhjBcYnzvU

    Adeon: Dublin FTW! I grew up in San Ramon, and went to LPC (transferred to Davis). I’ve got, right now, a whole bunch of fireworks I picked up from Dublin a couple years ago. Rusk is right, though: it’s too damned dry to risk lightin’ ’em off…

  29. Cuthalion says:

    @R4byde: I was just thinking that yesterday.

  30. MelTorefas says:

    “I guess they just want us to make a real effort if we insist on blowing ourselves up.”

    I think this is pretty close to the truth. As far as I know, the main reason for the anti-firework laws is as a sort of legal shield. If you kill yourself doing something illegal, it’s harder to, say, prosecute the city for it. If you destroy property, hurt someone else, or start a big fire, it’s even easier for them to prosecute you. There might be/probably are some other reasons for it, but that always struck me as the main one.

  31. Aergoth says:

    According to local bylaws (within part of the GTA) you’re only allowed to release fireworks on two of a given four days (those being May 21st or 22nd if there’s rain, and July 1st and 2nd respectively). Of course no one follows them. We ever had what seemed to be a few Expats from south of the border shooting off over the past two days, may they burn. Really. Detroit is only a four hour drive from here. Go south, shoot off some fireworks, come back. I don’t want to have to hear you. You might even manage in it Niagara Falls ON since it’s essentially the border. We do have people who keep the festivities up for the day after regardless of the weather, but I usually ignore them.

    I enjoyed lighting the fireworks as much as watching them, but we have this sprawling maple in our backyard, and we typically launch the fireworks so that they can be launched from the porch. One of the branches managed to reach just to the point where we’d set up the fireworks, leading to some rather interesting trajectories of roman candle shots. We did have some idiots running around the park by the school shooting them at each other (stupid idiots). A week later the leaves on the branch all turned black and died. Yeah.

  32. Dev Null says:

    The best thing about fireworks in Australia is that the only place in the country where they are legal year-round (at least to the best of my knowledge, and I’m sure no end of people will delightedly pounce if I’ve got it wrong) is Canberra. Canberra being the Australian equivalent of Washington DC, only even more boring and surrounded by sheep paddocks instead of urban sprawl. Basically, the politicians who decided that people needed to be protected from blowing themselves up actually _said_ – instead of just strongly implying, as they do here in the states – “except us of course; _we’re_ sensible enough to do these things, just not you lot.”

    They did the same thing with hard-core porn, but everyone knows politics can’t function without regular doses of twisted sex.

  33. RPharazon says:

    In Canada, during Canada Day, we do very boring things such as go outside in a peaceful manner, or eat maple syrup snow cones and get diabetes. It is quite fun and pacifistic.

    In Mexico, during September 16 (Independence Day and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise), we use firecrackers on the streets, or small roman candles on big streets, and we fire guns into the air in rural areas. It’s fun, but you should stay inside lest a stray bullet get you or a stray firework ignite you. Oh yeah, and the President yells from a rooftop for an hour. Some of them even do it while drunk.

    On May 5th, contrary to popular opinion (Independence from the French, who ruled us for less than a decade), we don’t do anything except humour the tourists who think that it’s the main Independence day.

  34. Felblood says:

    You are liable for the damages if you start a fire with illegal fireworks, anywhere in the USA.

    Start a fire large enough to burn down half the condos in California, and the damages could total in the hundreds of billions.

    City fire chiefs typically count on that to keep fireworks use responsible, even though so few people know about it.

  35. Inquisitor says:

    Dev Null: I’m sure Australia is working on banning all forms of pleasure.

    As for me, I’m not really interested in fireworks anymore for some reason. Sure, explosions are nice, but only if they destroy something in the process.

  36. Chargone says:

    New Zealand’s big holidays would be the following

    ANZAC day. it’s a sort of memorial day, really
    Waitangi day [i may have spelled that wrong]… it’s debatable if it’s celebrating the signing of the treaty or protesting it…
    we have Guy Fawkes day as well… that’s the day for explosives. while skyrockets and a few other less controllable fireworks are banned, apart from that the limit is that they’re not allowed to Sell them to people under 14, i believe it was, nor are they allowed to be sold outside a couple of weeks before Guy Fawkes day.
    also, of course, there’s new years eve, Christmas day, boxing day [why boxing day and not Christmas eve, i don’t know] … theres a few ‘the day after’s associated with Christmas and new years when they fall on weekends,which are also public holidays.
    mmm. what else… queens, or kings, birthday weekend.
    show weekend, though technically i believe that’s supposed to fall on the local regional founding day or something… no one remembers that though, just that the big A&P show is on then :D
    oh, and Easter… Good Friday, Easter Sunday… I’m not sure if Monday’s a holiday or not… but the whole thing is, intentionally, lined up with the school holidays at the same time of year so it overlaps one side or the other.

    i’m sure there’s more that escape me

    but yeah, only Guy Fawkes day includes blowing stuff up. though there are professional fireworks displays for other reasons at other times of year too. worth noting that Guy Fawkes, here, is literally just an excuse to let off fireworks, maybe get a group together and have a BBQ or a hungi. [which i probably misspelled]. most people know what it’s about, but no one really cares. [heck, most people would probably be quite Pleased to see our parliament go up with a bang, actually. abstractly speaking.]

    err… yeah. 2c, right here. [NZ cents, that is, so, one and a third American, roughly? heh.]

  37. Shinan says:

    In Finland we celebrate our Independence Day on the 6th of December and it’s usually a fairly quiet undertaking. They show war movies on TV and remember the war veterans and that’s about it.

    Of course there’s also the Presidential Ball which is probably an even bigger tradition than showing Unknown Soldier on television.

  38. Mr. Son says:

    I can’t even buy sparklers in my county! All I wanted was sparklers and those little black snake tablets, but the ONLY “fireworks” my family could find was the packages in Safeway that were 95% various kinds of poppers. Pull-strings and those ones you throw at the ground and they snap. And I snap, because I just wanted some ^&#$ sparklers!

  39. El Quia says:

    We have two important dates related to our nation and our history. The 25th of May, where we celebrate our first national government (it was still representing the authority from the king of Spain, but it was completely composed by [i]criollos[/i] (american-born spaniards).
    The other big date it’s the 9th of July, where we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence from the Spanish Crown.
    And no, we don’t blow anything in the celebrations.

  40. AlfieUK says:

    In the UK our main ‘personal explosives’ events are Bonfire Night, commemorating the failed Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament/King on 5th November 1605 (burning an effigy of Guy Fawkes on said bonfire), and New Year’s Eve at Midnight (such as the damp-squib Millenium River display).

    I spent a 4th of July at Red Bank, New Jersey, where they had an organised display on the river and the USians certainly know a bit about flinging large amounts of explosives around in a pretty way to music.

    In some places in the UK it seems traditional every weekend to steal a car, joy ride it around for a bit, do burn-outs, doughnuts and power slides to impress the girlies, then set light to the car, and throw bricks at the responding Fire Service. Not sure if that counts though :)

  41. Flying Dutchman says:

    Celebrating with fireworks in the Netherlands is allowed only on New Year’s Eve, and rightfully so. We also celebrate the day the Americans, British and Canadians (and assorted allies) came to save our collaborating arses from a fascist regime and the day the Queen Mother has her birthday.

    Riesz is right though; Queen’s Day is best above the rivers. Like all other things ;)

  42. Riesz says:

    I guess the closest to Independence Day we have in the Netherlands must be Queen’s Day. It’s a day when there’s tons of festivals, flea markets and other outdoor events. A lot of people wear orange (the colour of the royal house of Orange, i.e. the national colour) and generally try to get drunk as hell before four in the afternoon. There’s some fireworks in the evening, but I think it’s just government arranged stuff. Only during New Year are we allowed to light our own gunpowder.

    With the addendum that this day is celebrated mostly in the North. Were I’m from originally, in the South, people are generally a bit less royalist, so you tend have a quiet day off with some outdoor music. In the North, it can get absolutely nuts, though.

  43. Robel says:

    Either I`m the only Romanian viewing your site regularly, or the others just didn`t take much interest in this topic.

    Our national day is 1st of December, when we celebrate the unification between Transilvania and Old Romania. It happened with the end of World War I, in 1918. I was born in 1988 so I don`t know much about the communism, but pre-1989 Romania had a different national day, 23rd of August, something concerning the 1917 communist revolution, even though we had nothing to do with Lenin and his ilk. Meh.

    Anyway, when I was younger, people didn`t use to celebrate national day that much. Actually, I remember, in the very late 90`s, there was more accent put on the national day of USA, when they had fireworks and they showed a lot of American Independence-Day movies (including the one with Will Smith). It was sad, frankly, to see how big a bunch of kiss-asses some of my higher-ranking co-citizens were. But now it`s very different. We celebrate 1st of December with fireworks and the likes (which are only legal then and on 31st of December after 23:00 hours) and we also celebrate the smaller nation-related holidays like 24th of January (the fist unification between Moldavia and the southern Country of Romania (also called Valahia – in our language, or Wallachia – in most other languages)), or the 10th of May (1877) when we celebrate our own Independence Day, when we escaped from the clutches of the Ottoman Empire.

    All in all the mentality of people here is changing for the better, but you can still see the shadows of communism – meaning that some people tend to not think for themselves, but instead copy other people, or other peoples. For example most young people took 14th of February as Valentine`s day, when we had our own lover`s day on 24th of February. I`m not saying don`t be open-minded, but still, a little patriotism wouldn`t hurt. Anyway, happy 4th of July, even though it`s a little late, and I`m sorry to hear that you couldn`t enjoy yourself as you should have that day. I hope you rested well, at least.

  44. Jeremy Huw Llewellyn Erwin says:

    In Australia we have Australia Day on January 26th that celebrates the arrival of the first fleet (basically several ships full of convicts) by giving us a public holiday, where barbecues and drinking are the customary method for celebration.

    Fireworks are illegal in my state but they can be bought in others legally I believe. People generally don’t set off fireworks on Australia day because it’s the middle of summer and all the celebrations happen during the day.

    In Sydney though (our biggest city) the yearly New Year’s Eve fireworks display is generally a sight to behold, they usually spend a few weeks and millions of dollars of taxpayer money hooking up fireworks to the bridge and on boats all around the harbour which they then let off in a display lasting around ten minutes or so.

  45. rabs says:

    In France, we will have Bastille Day soon (July 14th). It’s a big symbol of the revolution against monarchy.

    There is a military parade on the Champs Elysee (Paris) in the morning, then fireworks everywhere in the evening.
    I think it’s the only day with fireworks in Paris: since a few years, there are none for new year eve (though there are some in the suburbs, along with a few burning cars).

  46. potemkin.hr says:

    In Croatia, probably the only time fireworks are used is the few days around new year (when they are legally allowed). Most kids buy several pounds of firecrackers/cheap rockets and terrorize the neighbourhood by launching rockets on the road or dropping firecrackers (often the bigger ones – block busters if they can get to them somewhere) in the manholes. Adults aren’t into that stuff, they just watch the fireworks on the squares where free cooked wine is poured :)
    A notable event is also the “Fašnik” (pronounced Faschnik) carnival in which the locals burn a human size doll hanging on a rope which symbolizes getting rid of all evil.

  47. mavis says:

    Other people have mentioned Bonfire night in England. So I’ll just provide the poem.

    Remember remember the fifth of November
    Gunpowder, treason and plot.
    I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
    Should ever be forgot…

    In addition to blowing stuff up – there is also a tradition of big fires on which an effigy of Guy Fawlkes is burnt.

    It’s odd because at it’s heart it’s a vicious celebration of the repression of Catholics. Except it’s not really – now it’s an excuse to set off fireworks and stand around a fire….

  48. empty_other says:

    Norway’s Constitution Day (aka syttende mai/17.mai) is without fireworks, except someone shooting the cannons on Akershus Fortress in Oslo or some other big bang explosion in smaller cities. And a brass band deciding to play their music outside my window at 8:00 in the early morning in Kragerø. I hate that day.

    The only day we use fireworks is on New Years Eve. Unfortunately, last year it became forbidden for private persons to launch firework rockets. Only fireworks standing on solid ground is allowed.

  49. Somebody Else says:

    Seems like no other Norwegians have posted yet, so here goes:

    We celebrate the 17th of May. Officially, it’s the Constitution Day, but only in the same sense “Canis lupus familiaris” is the official term for “dog” – we all just call it the 17th of May. It’s the anniversary for our constitution, which was actually signed and ratified before we became independent from Sweden, and which, fun fact, contained Norway’s official declaration of independence in a bysentence.

    We celebrate it in the traditional, time-honored way of eating ice cream, eating hot dogs, drinking beer (for the adults) and parading through the streets. Although, because the entire thing is done by civilians, mostly children, it’s less of a “parade” and more of a “slowly moving mass of people”. Then we listen to speechification and patriotic music, and go off to do whatever the hell we want for the rest of the day, which often includes cake.

  50. Sho says:

    For a moment I thought we in Australia didn’t have a fireworks day but then someone reminded me about the New Years Eve celebration in Sydney. I used to watch that fireworks display, once or twice I even went to the harbour to see it, but so do thousands of other people (thus, discomfort/a bad spot) and it kind of loses its charm on TV.

    As for Australia day, sometimes things blow up unintentionally. What with those barbecues and their gas tanks…

    oh yeah, they release fireworks at the end of the day at the Royal Easter Show. Those are still fun for some reason. Maybe because it’s usually possible to get a good seat.

  51. Zanfib says:

    In the Northen Territory of Australia, Territory day is informaly known as fireworks night. A few years back my family and I, went to watch a proffesional fireworks display on the night. The people next to us had brought some of there own fireworks with them to ‘assist’ in the display, they also brought their baby.

    Ever then since fireworks night has been known as ‘barbeque a baby night’ in my hosehold. we do not participate.

  52. Mad Flavius says:

    Well, the other Americans have pretty much covered the ka-boom aspects (I’m from that dangerous state of arms dealers where Pennsylvanians get their illegal explosives). But I do have a few unusual traditions for the Fourth of July with my family.

    @Punning Pundit: Finally! Someone who watches “1776” too! It’s probably my favorite musical (particularly because Adams is a personal hero of mine).

    My family begins the celebration on the 30th of June, where we begin to watch the 1994 film version of “Gettysburg,” based on Jeff Shaara’s book, “The Killer Angels,” about the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War. The 30th of June is when the action starts in the film, and we watch just the parts that correspond with the days until the 3rd, which is the charge of Pickett’s division and the end of the battle. Next, we watch the Roland Emmerich classic “Independence Day” in a similar way, beginning on July 2nd and finishing on the 4th itself with the whole family quoting along with Bill Pullman’s stirring speech (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRGUqd_M6Mg). So that’s our wacky tradition. And yes, all movies have plenty of explosions.

  53. MOM says:

    It seems the love of “blowing stuff up” is pretty universal and every country tries to find some excuse to do it. This love showed up early in every male I gave birth to. And the one I married. I was a very irresponsible mother and relished their joy in this activity. Not sure why.

  54. Julian says:

    Here in Argentina, Independence Day is on the 9th of July (quite soon!), but no one lets off any fireworks. I guess it’s just not part of our culture. Also, we’re unfortunately not as patriotic as the common American, which is a shame. I’d love to see people show some love for their country, no matter how ridiculous it keeps getting.

    I will add that Argentine fireworks are among the best in the world… objectively! Jupiter (the leading fireworks brand) has won tons of international competitions, even against huge Chinese and American competitors. They do this insane show with Tango dancers – and by Tango I mean Tango, not the Ballroom Tango Americans are familiar with) and fireworks exploding to the beat of the music, with the huge final explosion coinciding perfectly with the last note of the song)

  55. James says:

    Who needs to buy fireworks, when you can make your own…

    http://hackedgadgets.com/2009/07/04/make-your-own-fireworks/

    Blow stuff up and be branded a terrorist, all in one easy package :)

  56. pffh says:

    We celebrate the Icelandic independence day on 17. June. We don’t blow anything up, but a huge part of the country gathers in our Capital downtown area and get drunk the Icelandic way (drinking as much as you can as fast as you can and then gang up on someone).

  57. Deoxy says:

    I think most places make fireworks illegal so there’s a law to break on the 4th… sort of traditional, seeing how this country started. It’s really a pretty good way to handle that, as it’s obvious you’re breaking a law, but you’re not doing something that you really shouldn’t be doing (like any of the other obvious law-breaking I can think of).

  58. Matt K says:

    It’s odd since in Maryland we go over the border to PA to get real fireworks (hell, Phantom Fireworks has a huge billboard in Baltimore City advertise just this).

    My favorite fire regulation is Ohio since it’s legal to buy so long as you don’t set them off in Ohio (at least according to my finacee).

  59. Mari says:

    As mentioned much earlier in the comments (too lazy to scroll back up to the fellow in Austin to find out his/her name) it varies county to county here in Texas. But most counties only ban them during droughts. Unfortunately bottle rockets are banned anywhere in Texas now :-( That shortened our festivities by a good hour this year but we still managed to blow up a good $400 worth of gunpowder between us at the combined celebration we do every 4th.

  60. froogger says:

    The cool thing about the norwegian national day celebration is the lack of explosions and uniforms. It’s a parade for the sake of children, with children marching. A nice change from all the worlds gross military displays. Still.. a little more fireworks wouldn’t be a bad thing.

  61. Groboclown says:

    @Telas – I live about 5 miles north of you, it seems. Yes, with the drought and crazy neighbors shooting off fireworks, we all ignore the watering restrictions and heavily water our lawns to prevent the kindling we call grass from igniting.

  62. Spider Dave says:

    Thanks for the shout out to us Canadians! Canada day was a lot of fun this year, although it seems like every year there are more and more Americans coming up to join the festivities. The fireworks in my city were pretty good this year, though I’ll admit I’m not a huge fan of fireworks. I’m too damn jumpy.

  63. MOM says:

    I just returned from a missionary society meeting at my church. The member who planned the luncheon is from Peru and she took me aside to let me know her family would not be in church this next weekend because the PERUVIAN EQUIVALENT of Independnce day is being celebrated. Her family is traveling to a park in Virginia, near DC to a large Peruvian community where she and fam can join in the celebration. Native food and Peruvian pop music were the main draw for her family. This family does this each year and then visits the museums and historical sites in DC. Good folks. I didn’t have a chance to ask if pyrotechnics were in the plans.

    PS The missionaries were missionaries from Africa and were driven out because of Civil war and revolution, from Liberia after 15 years service and then Ivory Coast after they served there 5 years. I hope someday those peoples will have a national day to celebrate their free and peaceful existence

  64. Joe Cool says:

    Apparently, the city of Chicago, where my brother lives, celebrates Independence Day weekend with massive amounts of bloodshed.

    Where I live, in Southern California, fireworks are illegal, so I spent the fourth watching a whole bunch of different illegal shows in every direction. From my parents’ house, which is on a hill, you get a wonderful view of the Los Angeles harbor, and you can watch the cities of San Pedro and Wilmington attempting (rather successfully) to blow themselves up.

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