Here are five things to know about July Fourth, including the origin of the holiday and how fireworks became part of the tradition:
The holiday celebrates the Second Continental Congress' unanimous adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, a document announcing the colonies' separation from Great Britain.
One year later, according to the Library of Congress, a spontaneous celebration in Philadelphia marked the anniversary of United States independence.
But across the burgeoning nation, observations didn't become commonplace until after the War of 1812. It quickly took off.
The Library of Congress notes that major historic events in the 19th century, such as groundbreaking ceremonies for the Erie Canal and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, were scheduled to coincide with Fourth of July festivities.
How did fireworks become a July Fourth tradition?
The display of pyrotechnics has been a big part of Independence Day from the outset. Founding Father John Adams saw it coming.
Commemoration of America's independence “ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more,” Adams wrote in a letter to his wife, Abigail, dated July 3, 1776.
Fireworks were around centuries before America became a nation. The American Pyrotechnics Association says many historians believe fireworks were first developed in the second century B.C. in ancient China, by throwing bamboo stalks into fires, causing explosions as the hollow air pockets overheated.
By the 15th century, fireworks were widely used for religious festivals and public entertainment in Europe and early U.S. settlers carried on those traditions, the association said.
Has a president ever refused to celebrate?
Presidents from George Washington to Joe Biden have celebrated Independence Day with one exception: Adams.
His letter to his wife aside, Adams refused to celebrate the holiday on July 4 because he felt July 2 was the real Independence Day. Why? It was on July 2, 1776, that the Continental Congress voted in favor of the resolution for independence, although the Declaration of Independence wasn't formally adopted until two days later.
Adams was so adamant that he turned down invitations to festivals and other events, even while serving as the nation's second president. Ironically, Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, both died on the 50th anniversary of the document's formal adoption, July 4, 1826.
How popular are fireworks?
Consumer sales of fireworks have grown rapidly over the past two decades.
Statistics from the American Pyrotechnics Association show by 2022, that figure rose to $2.3 billion. The biggest jump came during the COVID-19 pandemic, when public fireworks displays were shut down. Consumer sales jumped from $1 billion in 2019 to $1.9 billion in 2020.
“People went to the fireworks store beginning Memorial Day weekend and they just didn't stop,” said Julie Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association. “They were firing off fireworks all of 2020. It shocked the industry, to be quite honest with you.”
Sales are expected to rise another $100 million this year, the association said. It helps that the Fourth of July is on a Tuesday, creating essentially a four-day weekend.
Despite widespread education efforts, thousands of Americans are badly injured by fireworks each year. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that in 2022, 10,200 people were treated at emergency rooms and 11 deaths were blamed on fireworks. About three-quarters of injuries happened in the period around the Fourth of July.
Mitchell Kannry, a fire marshal in Washington D.C., told VOA although some areas and states, allow for the legal purchase of fireworks, it doesn't necessarily mean they're safe, adding some fireworks are "very dangerous."
He says the best way to experience fireworks are at professional displays "in a controlled setting, a licensed permitted event."
A record 50.7 million Americans are expected to venture at least 50 miles from home in the period heading into July 4th, eclipsing the prior peak of 49 million in 2019, according to the American Automobile Association.
More than four-fifths of the travelers over the long weekend will be going by car, benefiting from the 25% drop in gasoline prices. But they will likely experience "grief at the grill," as Rabobank said of double-digit price increases on beef, lettuce, soda, white bread and potato chips.
"Consumers have taken some heavy punches but they're still standing," said Tom Bailey, senior consumer foods analyst at Rabobank, adding that the July 4th gathering is a "splurge" item.
Even before the pandemic, travel industry experts described a greater preference for young consumers for "experiential" consumption compared with earlier cohorts.
If anything, those trends were bolstered by the isolation of the pandemic years, helping to fuel the current go-go spending on hotels, airlines, cruise ships and booking websites.
"Travel remains really robust," said Siye Desta, an equity analyst CFRA Research. "There hasn't been any sign of any pullback in consumer spending in travel, even though prices have meaningfully increased."
This report has information from The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse. VOA's Carol Van Dam contributed to this report.