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A Very American Celebration

Boom Buddy family, The Shawvers, will be celebrating The Fourth of July again this year. Mum, Kim, tells us all about it!


The Fourth of July this year may be unusually political in the UK, but for us, it’s always a patriotic day of celebration. Having a mixed heritage family is full of learning, travelling and, of course, extra holiday celebrations. One of which for us is the all American Fourth of July!



So what exactly does it mean to celebrate the Fourth of July? In short, it means having a celebration with your family, eating lots of food, attending local parades and being patriotic for the country that you call your home. Before moving to the UK, Jay celebrated the Fourth of July in the USA with his large family and close friends. It’s harder to celebrate here in the UK, but it’s made easier as I’ve been fortunate to be able to join his family in Missouri for three of the last six years. The first was when we got married (he actually proposed on the 4th July, two days before we were married, but that’s a whole other story!), the second when I was 20 weeks pregnant, and last year, we got to return to celebrate with our wonderful boy and share part of his culture with him for his first celebration. So, what have I learnt from my three years of celebrating in the USA?



Well, firstly their idea of firework safety is a far cry from ours in the UK! One of the biggest culture shocks was seeing firework tents (yes tents!) set up along main roads with people coming and going most days to buy fireworks for their own parties. In these tents you find an impressive range to rival our standard supermarket offerings for bonfire night, from sparklers and small firework toys aimed at children, all the way up to multi-shot displays. The fact that there were so many fireworks aimed at children really surprised me given our culture in the UK. I must say I’m still not quite comfortable with it, but when I saw the joy from the children catching falling parachutes, I understood a bit more. They don’t just watch a short display, they get involved and make it a whole evening of fun!



The celebrations are also just as patriotic as you’d imagine, with everyone wearing red, white and blue, or flag-based attire both on the day, and for any weekend events. You can find a wide range of decorations, foods and clothing along this theme in all supermarkets and shops, which really capitalise on these big holidays. Of course, I had to join in and for our trip last year we all had matching American flag dungarees! One of the fun parts of our family gatherings is seeing all the different outfits and family themes.



Food is key to celebrations anywhere you go and our family events are always a “pot luck” where everyone brings a dish or two to share and you have a wide variety of things to try. The meat is often standard burgers and sausages alongside big joints of smoked meat like pulled pork, chicken wings or pork steaks. Sides include creamed corn, their own style of baked beans, devilled eggs and a range of salad options and of course there is an abundance of desserts to suit every palate. 


And then there is the history. In all honesty, being the Brit of the group, I often get mocked when I attend these events as “the losing side”, often by our uncle, but all in good jest. The Fourth of July is their celebration of independence from the UK back in 1776. Originally it was based on the annual festivities they held each summer for the British King's birthday, similar to in the UK. It’s rumoured that the first independence day celebration was actually a mock funeral for the king in replacement for his birthday celebrations! It represented the death of the monarchy for those in the United States, and the birth of their new country and independence. It also used to be a very political holiday until the 20th century, when the politics ebbed out and it became a day of pure patriotic fun and celebration. So although it is a USA holiday, there are plenty of ties back to the UK.

 

So, what about when we’re not in the USA? Well, we have a party of our own! We celebrate with our friends, get decorating, light up the BBQ, put on some country music and play some corn holes (lovingly made by Jay). What’s even better, is that to make him feel at home, everyone gets dressed up and really embraces the festivities! So, while this year's Fourth of July in the UK is creating political similarities to 18th century USA, we will be focused on a patriotic celebration for my American husband and half American son.



 

 

 

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