• Mark Allen

Holiday’s name is self-evident: It’s the date on which it falls

You are free to parade, grill, engage in pyrotechnics, and otherwise celebrate Independence Day, but don’t feel it necessary to call it that.

The celebration of the nation’s birthday has the distinction of being the only official holiday named for a date rather than a person or event. There is a temptation to write it as the more descriptive and proper sounding “Independence Day,” but the holiday was originally known by the date on which it falls.

The Oxford English Dictionary records a reference in a diary to “Independence Day” in 1791. A Google Book search shows “Independence Day” was in use before Congress established July 4 as a day off in 1870. But the 1870 act, which made July 4 an