Whether it’s sitting on your town’s common or watching a concert on TV, chances are you’ve gone through life gazing at fireworks every Independence Day without ever knowing the origin of the custom. Well, here is your fun fact for family and friends this 4th: the sparkling tradition dates back to the founding fathers themselves!

According to a U.S. News & World Report article, “In a July 3, 1776 letter to his wife, John Adams declared that the signing of the Declaration of Independence should be a ‘great anniversary Festival’ and ‘solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.’”

“A year later, Congress itself ordained the tradition, enjoying in Philadelphia ‘a grand exhibition of fireworks, which began and concluded with thirteen rockets on the commons,’ according to the Evening Post. The celebratory firing of muskets, artillery and other explosives was a carryover from colonial days.” And yes, the 13 rockets did symbolize the 13 original colonies.

What other fun facts can you share about Independence Day? Tell us in the comments below, and use them to impress your cookout guests on the 4th!