It’s fireworks and summer temps, red, white, and blue and BBQs. It’s the birthday of our nation, But there are some fascinating facts about the holiday we know as the Fourth of July that might not have made it into your typical history lesson. Take a look at these surprising moments in our country’s history and in our celebration on Independence Day. They might just make you the trivia star of the family cookout this year!

1. July 4th…or 2nd? Whomp, whomp, whomp. It all comes down to delivery issues. The Continental Congress said, “Aye!” when it came to voting for our independence on July 2nd, 1776, not July 4th. So why do we celebrate the Fourth? That’s when the final touches and last edits were made to the content of the Declaration of Independence. Leaders including future president John Adams thought that July 2nd would be the official birthday of the country that would be honored by future generations, but that’s not what happened. It was the completion of the final draft that made the cut. For that first generation of Americans, it was actually even long past July when they learned of the action their elected officials had taken against Britain, given that the news had to travel across the colonies by foot and horseback. Additionally, it took until August of 1776 for all of the signatures on the document

2. Fireworks from the Get: The first time Independence Day was celebrated, there were, you guessed it, fireworks. Yep, all the way back to America’s first birthday party in 1777, fireworks lit up the sky. That nighttime light show was held in Philadelphia, which at that time served as the new nation’s unofficial capital. Shortly after the signing of the Declaration, the capital moved to Baltimore, Maryland, then to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, then York, Pennsylvania, as leaders worked around and outran attacks during the Revolutionary War. Congress had to move a few more times, with stints in Princeton, New Jersey, Annapolis, Maryland, Trenton, New Jersey, and New York City. A few years later, Philadelphia would become the official (and officially temporary) capital of the United States, from 1790 until 1800, while Washington, DC, was being built to accommodate the government.1

3. A+ in Penmanship: While James Madison, in partnership with several other key leaders, is credited with developing the content of the Constitution,2 have you ever thought about that iconic cursive writing that makes the Declaration of Independence so recognizable to Americans? That would be the work of one Timothy Matlack, who served as an assistant to the Secretary of the Continental Congress. He was able to complete the scribing job in just two days, completing the work on July 19th.3 If you’re tracking the math, then you’ve already realized it; the Declaration of Independence in its final document form is the one scribed by Matlack, not the document that was developed in those days ahead of July 2nd. That document had edits, scratch-outs, and start-overs, which was why Matlack was asked to produce a clean copy. It would take until late August of the same year before all the the delegates’ signatures were added.

4. What Are the Presidential Chances? Talk about patriotic! Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Monroe, all U.S. presidents, died on July 4th, Jefferson and Adams in 1826 and Monroe in 1831.

5. In Which the Fourth Goes Global! It’s not just here in the U.S. that you’ll find all-American celebrations! England, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark also mark the day in honor of American tourists and Americans living in those countries.

So there you go! This year you can bring more to the hotdog cookout than just the Dad Jokes. America has a unique history, and along with that history are some fascinating bits of trivia. Enjoy the Fourth!

For other ideas on how to make this year’s Fourth a happy and healthy one, check out these other articles from Altrua HealthShare, your solution for affordable, flexible healthcare:

Family Fourth! The Ins, Outs, and Fun of Time with Extended Family

Tips for Staying Hydrated This July Fourth Holiday

Ideas for a Spectacular and Safe 4th of July!