The Fourth of July, aka Independence Day, is one of the only holidays that everyone in this country celebrates together. Its history has been recited over and over again, and most everyone knows that it is based on the day that the Declaration of Independence was approved. But there are some common myths about why that date is significant that most Americans just don't know, and a few things about the holiday which may in fact surprise you.

July 4th, 1776 was in fact NOT the day the United States declared our independence, rather the day that the Continental Congress agreed on the the phrasing of the Declaration. They had declared our independence a few days prior on July 2nd. The Fourth of July was also in reality not the day the Declaration was endorsed, most did that on August 2nd after an officially copy was engrossed by a calligrapher onto parchment paper. Think those facts are strange? Try this one on for size The only two men who signed the historic document, and eventually became President, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both died on exactly the same day: July 4th, 1826.

The holiday has also not been the official national holiday like it is today. While it was always celebrated by people partying, and dressing in cheap costumes, with firework displays typical in big cities, but it took a slow process to become an official holiday. In 1781 Massachusetts proclaimed it a "state celebration" but the next modification to its status didn't come for almost a hundred years. The United States government finally declared it an official workers holiday in 1870; however it was an unpaid holiday so the decision wasn't the most popular since it cost a lot of workers money. That remained the status quot until 1938 when it at last became the official paid holiday it is today.

This slow development from simple tradition to one of the biggest and most spectacular holidays in the world is a big part of American culture that is for some reason overlooked when talking about the history of the holiday. Most people simply know that it was based on the date that appears on the Declaration of Independence, so show some patriotism and let your friends in on this little slice of history this Fourth of July!