Family traditions are a big part of holiday celebrations. Whatever the holiday, traditions passed down year to year, generation to generation, can make a meal or cookout feel like something more. Independence Day is no exception! While we usually think of Thanksgiving and the winter holidays when we talk about family traditions, don't be fooled. The 4th of July provides a great opportunity for family fun. Warm weather and long days are the perfect backdrops for family traditions like these:
Jennifer Pisczc, a mother of five from Columbia, SC, is continuing a tradition her family started when she was a kid. "Every year since I was little, my family wakes up and gets dressed up in our festive red, white, and blue outfits." Then they head out to the Lexington County Peach Festival, where they enjoy the parade. Jennifer says she's enjoyed watching the parade grow and change since she was a little girl. After the parade, the family browses vendor and craft booths, listening to live music, and sampling the food and drinks showcased at the festival "Everything is peach flavored! There are teas, lemonades, and my favorite...ice cream! This is a tradition I loved as a kids and even now as a parent!"
Another South Carolina mom, Katrina Siron, travels to North Carolina US Marine Corps base, Camp Lejeune, with her husband and three kids, to celebrate Independence Day. She says they enjoy a big fireworks show with live music. "We walk across the street from the main field for Dairy Queen and otherwise just enjoy the show. There are huge crowds but it's always worth it." Siron, who grew up at Camp Lejeune while her father was stationed there, found out after she married that her husband's family lives nearby, so spending the day on base "is a great way to connect with my childhood and create new memories with my husband's side of the family."
In rural communities where there may not be big community celebrations or fireworks displays, families can still enjoy the thrill of pyrotechnics. Kate Wehr of western Montana and her family buy fireworks from pop-up stands and shoot off fireworks in their own backyards! If you are considering setting of fireworks at home, please keep these safety tips in mind.
Likewise, Arkansas transplant Nina Prater and her family take to the woods to "blow stuff up." "I grew up in VT where fireworks are illegal, so this was new to me, the do-it-yourself version." She adds that it's a good time for the whole family and everyone has their favorites, "The kids like the sparklers, junebugs, and snakes, and the poppers that you throw on the ground."
Yarrow Point Washington mom, Jackie Freeman, is also carrying on a tradition that's been in her family for years. "The neighborhood I grew up in has an annual parade: kids on bikes, classic cars, a small marching band, and a giant street food set up (hot dogs, strawberry shortcake, etc). Generations of families attend!" Jackie, who attended the same parade with her parents as a child, now gets to share the experience with her husband, stepsons, newborn baby, in-laws, and friends.
If you're lucky enough to live in an area with summer berries like Pennsylvania mom of two Amy Dimeler Lerner, you can even incorporate some fresh-picked goodness into your tradition. Amy says black raspberries are in season around the 4th and "ever since I was a kid, we've made black raspberry ice cream." When she was little they even used a hand-crank ice cream churn!
Tim Salouros, a restaurant manager in East Rutherford, NJ, also enjoys spending time in nature as part of his family's Fourth of July tradition. Tim, his fiancée, and his children "go away to our house in Upstate New York and spend quality time together as a family. The children love to fish on the pond on our property, ride quads, and explore." They also love to barbecue and roast marshmallows in the fire pit. Tim says he always tries to surprise the kids with some fireworks and sparklers. "Spending time together without any interruptions is what we enjoy the most!"
Even celebrities have fun, family-centered traditions for the holiday. Food Network personality, celebrity chef, and mom of one (with twins on the way!), Donatella Arpaia, spends the day entertaining friends and family at her lake house. Kids enjoy a trampoline filled with water balloons, super fun food like cotton candy and ice cream, and a huge fireworks show after dark.
Iron Chef Cat Cora also gets in on the 4th of July family fun. Cat, who is a mom of 6 boys, says they kick off the summer season with a big Independence Day cookout for family and friends. "It's important to prep things early when cooking for such a large group. My boys love being in the kitchen and helping me prepare all of the food." Cat prepares a few of her signature dishes for the crowd and everyone kicks back and enjoys the beautiful summer weather.
Family traditions, whether passed down from generation to generation or started new with your family, have the ability to transform a regular day into a memory that will last for years, maybe even generations. Spending time with family and friends this Independence Day is a great way to start your own family tradition. Be creative and have fun!