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By Joe de Marini.

Every country celebrates its independence or its birthday, and in this case, North America has two countries that celebrate one of each within the same week! July 1st (and this author’s birthday) is Canada Day, while July 4th is the USA’s Independence Day (so as not to be confused with the legendary Roland Emmerich film starring Will Smith and President Bill Pullman, we often just call it “The Fourth of July”). We’ll start with Canada Day, since it comes first.

 

Canada Day commemorates the day the Constitution Act of 1867 was enacted, and the colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and newly formed Ontario and Quebec became the country of Canada—while still under the rule of the British Empire, of course. It was originally called Dominion Day, but the name was changed in 1982 and now somehow sounds much cuter, and I can’t get the image of a singing ‘n’ dancing maple leaf leaping off the Canadian flag out of my head. The central celebrations take place in Canada’s capital of Ottawa, Ontario, with the prime minister and governor general officiating, though sometimes a member of the British Royal Family will sit in for the governor general. Festivities include parades, barbecues, fireworks, concerts—really any sort of revelry is acceptable for Canada Day.

A few days later, on the 4th, the USA celebrates its Independence Day. On July 4th, 1776, the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence and said that the 13 colonies in America were no longer a part of the British Empire and declared themselves a new nation: The United States of America. Unfortunately, this was followed by several years of war with the British before they gave up and left the States to their own devices. The day is celebrated similarly to Canada Day, although with a much higher emphasis on fireworks and patriotism. Picnics and barbecues abound, and as it’s a federal holiday, it’s a day to spend with family and friends. The capital city of Washington, D.C. is the focus of celebrations, while Philadelphia—the first capital of the United States—also has a lot of festivities.

What about you? What’s your country’s national holiday, and how did it start? Let us know in the comments below!