Picnics, summer, sun burn, fireworks — and it's a federal holiday! It hasn't changed that much — except for the selfies and Facebook everything. It's now more likely public fireworks vs the front yard. July 5 unofficially starts the Christmas countdown.
The meaning and the history behind it is just as important as ever. After the War of 1812, the Federalist party began to come apart and the new parties of the 1820s and 1830s all considered themselves inheritors of Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans. Printed copies of the Declaration began to circulate again, all with the date July 4, 1776, listed at the top. The deaths of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on July 4, 1826, may even have helped to promote the idea of July 4 as an important date to be celebrated.
Congress first declared July 4 to be a national holiday as part of a bill to officially recognize several holidays, including Christmas. Further legislation about national holidays, including July 4, was passed in 1939 and 1941. So, Independence Day and Christmas really do have more in common than we thought besides the retail sarcasm. Both holidays went on the American map of a relatively handful of federal holidays at the same time.