The Fourth of July marks one of the most significant events in the history of the United States. On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, officially breaking bonds with England and forming a new independent nation, the United States of America. Independence Day is celebrated on July 4 because independence from Britain was officially declared on that day. On July 8, 1776, the first public readings of the Declaration of Independence were held to the ringing of bells and band music.

Early Independence Day celebrations included games and sports events, military parades, bonfires, and fireworks. Nowadays most Americans have a holiday from work or school on July 4. Communities and families organize all-day picnics and barbecues with favorite American foods like hot dogs and hamburgers, potato salad, baked beans, pie, and watermelon. Many people display the American flag outside their homes or buildings. Some cities have parades with people dressed up as the original “founding fathers,” who march to the music of high school bands. At dusk, people across the country gather with friends and family to watch local fireworks displays.

Fireworks explode over the East River in front of the Manhattan skyline as seen from the Brooklyn borough of New York during the Macy's Fourth of July fireworks show Saturday, July 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Fireworks explode in front of the Manhattan skyline during the Macy's Fourth of July fireworks show in 2015. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Many U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, including Tokyo and the five consulates in Japan, invite people from the local community to join their Independence Day festivities. The grounds are decked out in red, white, and blue, and a variety of American musical performances, cultural displays, and refreshments are provided for all to enjoy.