On the Fourth of July, 1776, members of the Second Continental Congress approved the final version of the Declaration of Independence, formally separating America’s 13 colonies from the British crown. Annual celebrations began a year later, even though the Revolutionary War was raging, and in 1870 Independence Day was declared a federal holiday. From at least the 19th century onward, celebrating often commenced the night before, and all across the U.S. folks are already beginning to party.

Like the Brits who colonized America, the ancient Greeks dispatched settlers westward to Italy starting in the eighth century B.C., in search of more resources for their expanding