Tag Archives: fourth of july

Fourth of July: Holiday


Me: “Do you have any festivals and or holidays that you participate in?”

NO: “I can talk about the Fourth of July. Fourth of July is a commercialized holiday within American culture that is usually practiced to celebrate the birthday of America. Although each family and household celebrates differently, my family usually goes to a parade, located in my city’s downtown, where we watch fireworks, eat typical traditional American foods (hot dogs, hamburgers, potato chips, and beer), and pop our own fireworks.”

Me: “Do you think Fourth of July involves any type of rituals?”

NO: “um, I don’t know, I mean the only thing I can think of is the idea that within the days and weeks leading up to Fourth of July, it is normal to hear fireworks popping during the night. It’s a way to show one’s excitement for the huge upcoming holiday as many Americans take it very seriously depending on how patriotic they are. My grandpa also usually hangs up the American flag before the start of our family get together and we typically say the Pledge of Allegiance before we begin eating and celebrating; it’s a way to show respect and to salute our country.” 

Context (informant’s relationship to the piece, where they heard it, how they interpret it):

-NO’s relationship within the Fourth of July stems from her Mexican-American culture. Considering that NO is both Mexican and American, her relationship within this holiday stems from her own patriotic beliefs and the appreciation that she emits despite being only half American. NO has heard about this holiday all her life as she has always been exposed to the commercialized store displays, the American culture excitement, and the various parties that she would always go to as a child and as a young adult. NO interprets this holiday as a reminder of the other half of herself. Given that she was born in America, although she has Mexican parents, she values the fact that she is living within a country that can grant her so much in terms of education, stability, and comfort. NO sees this holiday as a representation of who she is and how connected a community can be. 

Analysis(what kind of personal, cultural, or historical values might be expressed) YOUR interpretation:

-The cultural values that are embedded with the Fourth of July are the stereotypical lifestyle values that indicate American culture; this can be seen within typical stereotypical American food (hotdogs, hamburgers, potato chips, and beer) and the patriotic involvement within firework shows, picnics, and commercialized window displays within retail stores. The personal values that are expressed within this holiday is the amount of patriotism that one individual chooses to express. This can be seen within the patriotic clothing that people choose to wear as American culture is evident of wearing anything blue, red, or white, as they dress up for the occasion. This can be seen as one’s overall value of commitment considering one can make the decision to choose to dress up and portray themselves in Fourth of July’s “costume” or not. I interpret this holiday as a community building celebration where unity can be found. I see this holiday as a way to come together as a society and enjoy the moment where people are on the same page. Given the fact that I do celebrate this holiday, I believe that dressing up in red, white, and blue showcases festivity, patriotism, and a way to join together in unity and harmony as a way to celebrate what we all have in common. Within this holiday, the concept of a gloss coating washing over festivals, traditions, and holidays, introduced by Gregory the First, a European Pope, can be seen given the fact that this holiday is celebrated by many citizens of America despite the fact that not everyone in the country is as involved, up to date, and knowledgeable about American politics or news; this signifies that a gloss coating is placed upon Fourth of July as a way to commercialize the holiday and make it seem that it’s solely about hamburgers, beer, and fireworks as opposed to the birthday of America. A holiday that is similar to Fourth of July is Cinco de Mayo (May 5), a traditional Mexican holiday that is celebrated to give remembrance of the Mexican victory over the French Empire. Usually, in American society you can see various individuals using the 5th of May as an excuse to drink and party; this stems from the commercialized notion behind the holiday, much similar to how Fourth of July is viewed as.

Rubber Ducky River Race

Main Piece

“So, every July 4thin Florence Oregon, they have the annual Rubber duck race. You buy a rubber duck. And usually there are hundreds of people that do this, so it’s like hundreds of rubber ducks. They load them into these trucks. So, you have like, your number and your duck. They put them into this dump truck and they dump them all into the Siuslaw River. And they have this little course. Whosever duck crosses the finish line first gets the prize. I don’t know what the prize is because I’ve never won. But yeah, it’s this nice little tradition we have and it’s a nice, little town too so everyone plays.”



The informant told me this story as a fun memory from the informant’s childhood. It is a fun tradition that is nostalgic to the informant because it is a time of the year where everyone in the town gets together.

This is a fun Fourth of July tradition the informant’s town held every year to celebrate the independence of the United States. She was born in Charlottesville, Virginia. She lived in Germany, Kansas, Virginia – but went back to Oregon to live at her family’s main house in Oregon. She only speaks English, but can speak parts of languages like Germany. Both parents are lawyers in the military (jags).



I have never heard of a town having such a large rubber duck race. My hometown has a fair every year and one of the games is a rubber duck race. But dumping an entire truckload of rubber ducks sounds like a fun and extra way to bring everyone in a small town together. It also creates a topic of discussion for everyone in that town to connect on.

Piggly Wiggly Day


I asked the informant if he had participated in any folk group traditions — something shared by a select group of people connected through a specific shared culture or activity. In this case, the group was a marching band.

Main Piece

Alright so, I was in the drum and bugle corps, called the Madison Scouts, from… in 2015 and 2016. It’s, like, a summer thing so, like, you spend the… you pay like, three thousand dollars to tour the country with a marching band basically. And I did that for five summers, but anyways, in ’15 and ’16 I was in the Madison Scouts and they have a tradition where on the Fourth of July they go to Cedarburg, Wisconsin, and instead of calling it like the Fourth of July or Independence Day or anything they call it Piggly Wiggly Day, because — and this is not, like, all Cedarburg, Wisconsin, this is just the Madison Scouts, like, the people in the Madison Scouts, we call it Piggly Wiggly Day because one of the former members of the Madison Scouts now owns a Piggly Wiggly grocery score in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, and he caters, like, our food for an entire day from his grocery store and its like, we get kind of, like, fed, like, shit, throughout most of the summer so like, Fourth of July comes and we get like, catered shit and… it’s Piggly Wiggly Day and it’s a great time. Cedarburg, Wisconsin.


This piece reflects the diversity of the adolescent experience in America. Having grown up in southern California, I had never been to, nor heard of, the Piggly Wiggly grocery chain, while in Cedarburg Wisconsin, it held great significance for my informant and his fellow Madison Scouts. This tradition also shows the ways faceless brands and corporations often become a cherished part of people’s cultural fabric; a grocery chain feast can even replace a national holiday like Independence Day when imbued with meaning and reverence by a group of young Scouts. Piggly Wiggly Day can thus be seen as a prime example of reception theory.

Colombianizing the Fourth of July

Originally from Florida, this friend of mine grew up around a wide range of cultures and traditions. Raised by Haitian and Colombian immigrants, she speaks Haitian-Creole, French, English, and a little bit of Spanish. We share a love of food, and spend a lot of time talking about food and different recipes and whatnot, so when this project came down the pipeline, I knew I had to ask her about some unique, family recipes.

The following was recorded during a group interview with 4 other of our friends in the common area of a 6-person USC Village apartment.

“And then Fourth of July dinner – that’s the day my dad really likes to make the sliders with like the cheese inside. Yeah, and then he puts like pineapple jam and like pink sauce – it’s so good. He’s Columbian, so he likes to … Colombinize, Colombianize food.”

This is a perfect example of cultural fusion. To take the most American food there is on the most American holiday there is and ‘Colombianize’ the two is literally what America is all about. We come from all over the world to share our cultures and make something new and beautiful and wholly original.

California Agricultural Festivals

My informant is originally from Santa Rosa, CA, where she grew up with some small town community ideals and in particular, festivals and annual gatherings.

She noted that there were three festivals that everyone she knew always attended, and that if you didn’t attend, it was questioned why. They were family events, and when one got older they would spend the evenings at the events with their friends.

The first festival was the Gravenstein Apple Festival in Padalum, CA. It usually took place in August, and my informant went every year with her family, just like her father had gone every year when he was younger. There were a variety of arts and crafts and apple oriented foods there at the festival. The biggest event was the pie contest, however. This event was possible because of the abundance of apples in the region, so my informant has told me. It was also used to promote local businesses as they would often donate gift baskets to give away at the event as a means to get exposure for their products. She also remembers other farm-like activities like an animal petting zoo and craft booths.

The second festival was the Sonoma County Fair  (in Santa Rosa Fair grounds).  It was the other event that you went to if you grew up in Santa Rosa. This was the presentation/competition of the animals. Kids could also enter ‘art projects.’ My informant listed cross stitch as an art project specifically. Schools promoted this festival because they passed out entry forms to the students in schools, a component that is different with contemporary folklore, using the school to promote traditional festivals.

The last annual event that my informant said she always attended was a 4th of July potluck picnic held in her court, which all of the residents would block off for the day. It would be a big potluck barbecue. Kids would ride their bikes around the court. They would have games like egg toss and water balloons for kids. When it started to get dark everyone had fireworks and everyone would set them off. The entire event lasted for about 12 hours. She noted that  the people involved with these events had usually lived in the area for a prolonged period of time and there was a real sense of community at all of the festivals.