The Fourth Of July Is The Worst Holiday

General Views & Atmosphere During Cannes Film Festival

Oh, God, seriously you guys.

Have you ever had a good Fourth of July? I’ve never had a good Fourth of July. I think it’s almost impossible to have a good Fourth of July unless you’re the kind of person who just loves grilling things to an ungodly extent. Frankly, if you’re the sort of person who thinks, “My definition of happiness is meat products that are charred on the outside and absolutely raw on the inside” then you’ll probably love The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair, and you’ll love the Fourth of July, too.

Why does it have to be so awful? I have absolutely no objection to the premise behind the Fourth of July. It’s nice that we have a day that celebrates that once, a long time ago, America won a war and became the kind of country that could shoot off sparkly, ostentatious sparklers into the sky. I think we’re all pretty proud of that, or we should be.

Though I hate fireworks. I mean, I really do. I do not understand why displays of fireworks have to go on so long. I think I’d be fine if firework displays were essentially five minute affairs – or even three minute affairs – and we just sort of proved that, yes, we could shoot them into the sky. Instead they go on for 20 minutes as though we’re trying to impregnate the ether. Does no one else get bored? We’re a video game generation, and it’s essentially just sparkly lights in the sky for 20 minutes, which is to say, an eternity. You probably think I’m just a callous human being, but look at teenagers at any beach where Fourth of July fireworks are being set off. I will bet you good solid money that they cannot make it through the spectacle without checking their iPhones.

Fireworks are boring. Any screen scaver you have ever owned does more interesting stuff. It displays an exctiing underwater world with squids and stuff. Fireworks are only exciting when they play on the backdrop of your computer after you win a round of Spider Solitaire, and, even then, they’re only really exciting to your mom.

Okay, they’re exciting to you, too, but Spider Solitaire is a really hard game.

So, what else is there to the Fourth of July? Well, that’s really the tricky question. If you don’t love fireworks you’re… screwed, pretty much. Fireworks are the whole holiday’s main attraction. And the thing is, you’re probably going to have to watch fireworks with some fairly peripheral friends.

The Fourth of July isn’t like Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or any of the holidays that offer you an excuse to reunite with your family. No one really takes the Fourth of July off to go and see their loved ones, unless their loved ones have a beach house and are within driving distance. So, frankly, there are going to be a lot of years where you are at your uncle’s beach house – which is within driving distance - trying to make awkward conversation while watching fireworks with a bunch of people that you know only in the vaguest sense.

Or, much more likely, you’re wherever you happen to live, barbequing with the motley collection of friends who have not fled for their uncle’s nearby beach houses. I don’t want to spoil things for you, but the barbeque at those parties? The barbeque is going going to be terrible.

I think there is a point in life where everyone learns how to grill things, but, honestly, I think it’s later than this point.


And the weirdest thing is that there is no escape. You can’t actually just decide to opt out of the Fourth of July as some people choose to opt out of, say, Thanksgiving, because there will be tangible proof that the holiday is occurring. Even if you stay locked inside your own home, you are going to hear the fireworks going off, like cannons in the distance. It is going to be absolutely, completely, 100% unavoidable. And if you are opting to sit inside your house eating pie, like a normal American, the sound of fireworks is going to make your feel terribly guilty about even trying to opt out. People talk about how the holidays are lonely for people around wintertime, well, the holidays are also lonely for people around the Fourth if you are not the kind of person who has a beach house to flee to. Except that you will remember that it’s happening more.

Oh, fuck it. I’m having a party. There’ll be a cheese plate, and some artitsanal chocolates, and no attempt to grill anything. There will be no watching of fireworks. Fireworks are dumb. Okay, maybe we can watch them for five minutes out the window, but no more. Who’s in?

Picture via Getty

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    • Sean

      Can I come? I have half a flag-printed cake and some rainbow-frosted maple cookies left over from Canada Day/Pride weekend.

    • Krusticle

      Oh, no, I love it! We live in a neighborhood that hosts several block parties with each block trying to outdo the others with ever more magnificent fireworks. My husband and I park lawn chairs in our front yard with tasty beverages of our choice and watch the sky. No driving, no socializing, no grilling required. Maybe just a quick dash into the house to apply bug spray and reassure our cats hiding out under the bed.

    • Elizabeth Licata

      I adore fireworks. The key is to be drinking during them.

    • jamiepeck

      Maybe your 4th of July needs more psychedelics, sweaty roof parties and experimental post-grunge? Just a suggestion!

    • Landry

      The 4th of July is the best

    • Jennie

      You left out the best part: alcohol. So much alcohol. Last year our beverage of choice was a fresh watermelon and raspberry slushy with vodka, and of course a couple of blue berries on top to make it all patriotic and whatnot.

      Fireworks can be cool, if it’s a good show. I dated a guy who hated them- he was completely colorblind and apparently fireworks are pretty lame when you can’t see color. In Alaska we aren’t having fireworks because: 1. Forrest fires 2. It doesn’t really get dark.

    • PlanetCharnBaby

      Don’t mind the public fireworks displays. It’s the never-ending blowing up of the smaller variety of fireworks that is unfortunately legal in my area of the country, and goes on constantly for about two weeks before and after the actual holiday. On the other hand, if I wanted to get away with shooting one of my neighbors in the face for exploding a package of Black Cats at 6:00am, 15 feet away from my bedroom window, I could probably get away with it.

    • Lotus

      Wow your life sounds like it sucks.

    • Charmless

      Last year, my 4th was a total WASPy American stereotype. I mean, we watched fireworks from a boat on Cape Cod. There was a significant amount of J. Crew being represented. I may have worn seersucker, although I can’t remember. I just recall my mother-in-law advising me against wearing heels on a boat several times, because that would be ridiculous, except I pride myself on being slightly ridiculous so I wore them anyway.

      But I’m Canadian, so it was a novelty for me.

    • Joyf

      Fireworks shows, like anything, have to be designed. Unfortunately I can only think of one such show, and it is not on the 4th.

      I did, however, manage to have an absolutely amazing time at a Fourth of July event at a super-redneck theme park once. Before the fireworks, there was a long laser show projected onto the side of a mountain carved with Confederate heroes. AFTER the fireworks, everybody left, but they ran the show again and my friends and I had an impromptu ballet all over this vast grassy hill. BRILLIANT.

    • Eileen

      I don’t think anyone enjoys fireworks for as long as they end up going on, but I did have a couple of good Fourths. My favorite involved grilling in the backyard, drinking beer, playing foursquare on the driveway (yes, we were in our twenties, but whatever), and then watching fireworks over Washington, DC while we tried to remember the words to various patriotic songs.

    • LuluinLaLa

      Fourth of July used to be my favorite holiday, because it meant day-drinking in the sun with all of my best friends. But as I’ve gotten older, it’s taken on the kind of pressure that New Years has, like I need to do something cool and amazing every year. And with the traffic and other hassles (like the fact that I’m usually cold and exhausted by the time fireworks start), I chose to basically opt out this year.

    • Allie

      How can you hate the 4th of July? It’s a day in the summer time that most people have off but the world doesn’t completely shut down. So you can still go shopping, cook, do whatever you want, or attend a party. Maybe be around people grilling, you don’t HAVE to eat anything. Or go to the beach! Find someone with a pool! Go to the movies. Enjoy a day off. Maybe you just hate people and fun? My goodness, that can’t be true.

    • Lisa(r)

      “impregnating the ether,” hah, what a funny and characteristically Jennifer Wright piece!

    • Anon.

      I feel the same way. I hate the 4th of July. Seriously…fireworks until 2am???

    • Retnan

      My dog was terrified of the GD fireworks. She bit my finger and wrecked a padded toilet seat. Thanks alot, George Washington.

    • MR

      We have good fireworks here, but I’ve seen them so many times. So I’ve made a point of catching a piece of the Montreal Jazz Festival, the last six years. Plus my old college buddy’s wife – up in the North Country, New York just south of Quebec province – has a sailboat she sails on Lake Champlain, and we spent a good deal of time on it this Friday and Saturday. Yeah, he, she and I went to Cleveland during the election to help Obama carry Ohio.

    • usa#1

      I bet you hate America so much you refuse to celebrate. Why don’t you leave to be with your comrades you commie scumbag!