The Fourth of July
'Celebrate from this time forward forever more' - John Adams
On July 4, 1776, the colonies then making up America declared independence from the kingdom of Great Britain. So the annual 'Fourth of July' holiday is probably the most important celebration of the year for most people in the United States,
John Adams was the second president of the United States and one of the founding fathers of its independence.
At the time he wrote to his wife, Abigail, saying that Independence Day would be the most memorable day in America.
He said that it should be celebrated with lots of parades and ceremonies - shows, games, different sports, bells and bonfires.
Independence Day is a national holiday and Americans celebrate it in true patriotic spirit. Because it's summer, most of the events take place outdoors.
Families often celebrate the day by attending a picnic or barbecue. They also visit their relatives to observe the occasion.
Decorations, such as streamers, balloons and clothing, generally carry the colours of the American flag - red, white and blue.
Parades are normally held in the morning and fireworks displays take place in the evening at parks, fairgrounds or in town squares.
One of the best fireworks displays takes place at the Washington Monument in the American capital.
America's flag is called the Stars and Stripes. The 50 stars represent the 50 states of America and the 13 stripes represent the 13 British colonies that broke away from British rule.
Frances Hopkinson designed the first flag of the United States and sent a bill to the Board of Admiralty in 1780.
But there is no proof that a woman called Betsy Ross made it, although thousands visit her grave each year to celebrate that fact.
Whatever the truth of some of the facts, the 'Fourth of July' is truly a day to remember.
'A Capitol Fourth' concert is always held before the fireworks and attracts more than half a million people annually to the Capitol lawn in Washington.
A day to remember
Since 1785 ... the Bristol Fourth of July Parade in Rhode Island is the oldest Independence Day celebration in the United States.
Since 1868 ... Seward, in the state of Nebraska, has held a celebration in the same town square.
Since 1916 ... Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, New York. The contest was started to settle a dispute among four immigrants over who was the most patriotic.
Did you know ...?
Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who signed the Declaration of Independence and later served as presidents, died on the same day - July 4, 1826 - which happened to be the 50th anniversary of the declaration.
Another founding father, president James Monroe, died on July 4, 1831 to become the third president in a row to die on this important day.
Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president, was born on July 4, 1872, and so far is the only president to have been born on Independence Day.
In 1870, the US Congress made Independence Day an unpaid holiday for government workers but changed it to a paid holiday in 1938.