When I realized my blog day was also the 4th, of course I had to think about the Regency connection. Then I remembered reading somewhere that the stress of the American revolution (along with problems with France and liberal opposition at home) contributed to the breakdown of George III’s health and sanity. His final lapse, of course, resulted in Prinny acting as Regent between 1809-1820.
But actually I have to fess up and admit that linking America’s founding fathers’ actions to the Regency (and its romance subgenre) is pretty far-fetched. Though some scholars in the past have made attempts to psychoanalyse George III, most experts now attribute his mental breakdown to porphyria, a hereditary disease which in extreme form can cause insanity. Recent analysis of the king’s hair indicates his condition was worsened by traces of arsenic in the James’ powder with which he was dosed.
Back to Independence Day. I enjoy it but have to confess it isn’t a particularly special holiday for me. My grandparents and parents came from Lithuania, fleeing communist oppression, and they taught me to appreciate what is great about this country. But they never were really hooked in with American holidays and traditions. Also, I have relatives in Lithuania, Italy, Finland, Canada and Australia, so even besides my galloping Anglophilia, I have ties to other countries besides the U.S.A.
I still think of myself as patriotic. I vote, I sometimes write letters to government officials, I volunteer in my community and I’m trying to raise my children to be good citizens. But I don’t have any family tradition of an annual 4th of July barbecue. I don’t mind if other people swathe themselves head to toe in flag images (anything that makes you happy!) but it’s just not me.
My family and I will celebrate in our own way. Last year at the request of my children I made a red, white and blue dessert with vanilla ice cream, raspberries and blueberries. Apparently this is now a “tradition”. Easy enough, I’ll do it again!
After dinner, weather permitting, we might go to the fireworks show at a local park. It won’t hurt us to listen to the 1812 overture again. Good bombastic fun and well-suited for fireworks, after all. Though I wonder how many people listening know it was composed to celebrate Russia’s victory over Napoleon and includes the Marseillaise, the French national anthem?
So how about you? Do you celebrate Independence Day and how? And can anyone explain how the 1812 Overture became a staple for the occasion?