Every week in cocktail chatter, we tell you what you need to know to sound like an expert at this weekend's play date, dinner party, or post office meeting.
This week's cheat sheet: The Fourth of July or Independence Day.
Why We Celebrate: The Declaration of Independence took 17 days to write, but it was officially adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. The actual declaration of independence by the Congress -- not the paper -- was done on July 2.
When It Became Official: The first time July 4 was recognized as an official holiday by Congress was in 1870 -- but at that point there was no pay for federal employees who lost a day of work according to research by James Heintze of American University.
Federal employees earned pay plus the holiday on June 29, 1938 with another act of Congress, but it wasn't until January 14, 1941 that those rights extended to the District of Columbia.
Another act in 1959 guaranteed workers a weekday holiday to make up for July 4 falling on a weekend (as it does this year)
How We Celebrate:
The first fireworks display on July 4, 1777 was federally sanctioned -- paving the way for fireworks displays that will cost $209 million this year in imports, another $331.4 million shipped out by US pyrotechnic companies around the nation.
Kicking off July as National Hot Dog month, one in four hot dogs eaten at a barbecue on the fourth will have originated in Iowa.
Are you ready for the fourth?
Image via Beverly & Pack/Flickr