June 29, 2017

Small Talk for the 4th of July Holiday

The 4th of July is a much awaited summer holiday. For many students mid May to Mid June starts summer vacation. During the summer vacation, many look forward to celebrating Independence Day, which falls on July 4. While many working professionals do get July 4th off, as it is a national and bank holiday, some companies graciously may give July 3rd or July 5th off if July 4th is a Saturday or Sunday or to make it an extra long weekend or holiday. In addition, many parents may elect to take more days off to spend time with their kids who are at home during summer vacation. 

This year (2018), 4th of July falls on a Wednesday. During this holiday, many will go to the park for picnics, camp out, have bar-be-ques, go on road trips, or have fun at home with family and friends. Many will also go to see fireworks. While many towns have their fireworks display on July 4th, many other towns may start their fireworks displays a few days before or elect to conduct them up to a few days after the 4th of July. Therefore, fireworks can be seen in many city night skies for about a week during the 4th of July holiday.  

When speaking to your US counterparts on July 3 (or days preceding this holiday), here are a few small talk phrases or questions that can be used to stimulate conversations and build relationships:

Training Games: Cross Cultural Training in India
Indian employees learn American holidays through interactive games
and role plays. Here, they learn about American symbols for the 4th of
July through a fun craft project. More about US culture training here.
  • So, tomorrow is the 4th of July. How do you celebrate?
  • What kind of fun stuff do you do on the 4th of July? 
  • I heard many Americans go on a vacation for the Independence Day holiday. Will you also be going away? 
  • I heard the fireworks for the 4th of July are spectacular! Will you be seeing fireworks? 
  • How do you celebrate the 4th of July? 
  • I know that many people have a bar-be-que on the 4th of July, will you also be attending a bar-be-que?
  • Do you do anything special to celebrate the 4th of July? 
These are just a few conversation starters. When the other person answers you, find something interesting in it and reply back. For instance, 

“How do you celebrate the 4th of July?” 

“My family and I have a family gathering at the lake, and in the evening watch fireworks. Maybe we will go camping.” 
(Find something interesting in their response and respond accordingly.)
“Wow, you go to the lake! I also love to go to the lake. Do you go boating?” 

Keep in mind that unless your US counterpart brings up ‘family and friends’ do not broach this topic first. Direct all questions to that individual himself.

Another exception is talking about gas prices. While Americans don't typically like to be asked about how much they spent on things, they are more open to talk about gas prices. Similar to Memorial Day (the last Monday of May), Americans will always talk and probably complain about the cost of gas as many take road trips during this time. The videos below are news clips from 2017 on the cost of gas during the 4th of July and summer holiday season.

Videos to watch on YouTube to gain context to US culture reference points:
  1. Gas prices hit levels not seen in more than 3 years (a 10 year high since 2008)- Click here to watch on YouTube
  2. In this 2018 video, they say "gas is up a nickel" a nickel is an American coin worth 5 cents. Learn more about American coins and money here
  3. Florida gas prices start summer at 12-year low (2017) - watch on YouTube
  4. Fourth of July gas prices will be at their lowest in more than a decade (2017) - watch on YouTube
You can also wish or greet someone for this holiday as noted in the tutorial below

Note a few other interesting phrases/words:

Going away, going out of town, going on a vacation – all of these phrases means “out of station” in Indian English. Americans do not say “out of station.”
Days off or take off days – In Indian English the closest equivalent is “leave” or “take an off”. Americans do not use those two phrases.

Feel free to add additional conversation starters and small talk you have used in your interactions about the 4th of July with your US counterparts in the comments below.

Here’s a short video of a fireworks display held in Rochester, New York a few years ago. Enjoy! Happy 4th of July!

A fun word search to use to expose yourself to new American English words and idioms used to discuss America's Independence Day is below.

Do you want practice in the dos and don'ts of making small talk with Americans to build relationships, get work done more efficiently and gain confidence in negotiating? Let's talk about how to build your business with Americans today

Related Posts: 

US State Birthdays
More easy tips on casual talk with US team members 
India's Independence Day - August 15 

Networked blogs link: http://networkedblogs.com/MN4MH

Authentic Journeys: Bridging Culture on Virtual Teams

We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Salt Lake City, Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.