Eight Public Holidays In France Celebrated On Fixed Dates

France celebrates a total of thirteen public holidays, or jours feriés, every year. Of these, eight are observed on fixed dates, which include three important religious celebrations. These eight fixed-dated French public holidays are listed below, in the order of their occurrence.

1. Le Jour de l’An (New Year’s Day) – France, like most other countries, celebrates New Year’s Day on January 1, the first day based on the Gregorian calendar. The highlight of activities on this holiday, again like in many countries, takes place at midnight that spans the last day of the old year (December 31) to the first day of the new year. Observance of the New Year lasts up to January 6, the feast of the Epiphany.

2. Fête du Travail (Labor Day) – There probably isn’t a country that does not observe Labor Day, for on this day workers celebrate their social and economic achievements. In France, Labor Day is celebrated in conjunction with the celebration of “Le Jour du Muguet”. In this latter celebration, workers sell “muguet” (lily of the valley) on the streets to raise funds for labor unions. May 1 is the date when France, and almost all countries, celebrates Labor Day.

3. Victoire 1945 (Victory in Europe Day) – This public holiday is celebrated in France on May 8. It is a celebration of the victory of the Allied Powers (of which France was a member) against Nazi Germany that signaled the end of World War II.

4. Fête Nationale (Bastille Day) – This is the National Day of France, which is celebrated on July 14 every year. The celebration is a commemoration of the storming of the medieval fortress and prison known as the Bastille, which took place on July 14, 1789, that paved the way for the rise of modern France.

5. Assomption (Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary) – Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion in France, and the Assomption is one of the most important religious celebrations in this country. This August 15 celebration is an observance of the taking up into Heaven, body and soul, of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

6. Toussaint (All Saints’ Day) – This is another important religious celebration in France, which is observed on November 1 each year. The day is celebrated in honor of all the Saints who are recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. Traditionally on this day too, deceased family members and friends are remembered and prayed for.

7. Armistice 1918 (Armistice Day) – This holiday, which is also called Remembrance Day, is celebrated on November 11. It is a commemoration of the signing of the armistice or cessation of hostilities by and between the Allies of World War I and Germany. The event is especially important for France since it was in the French commune of Compiègne where the armistice was signed on November 11, 1918. Through this momentous event, World War I eventually ended.

8. Noël (Christmas Day) – This is the most joyful religious celebration in France, as it is in many parts of the world. It is celebrated on December 25 in commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the central figure of Christianity. The Christmas season actually is one of the longest holidays in France, which is celebrated beginning on Christmas eve (December 24) up to the feast of the Epiphany on January 6 the following year.

In the eastern provinces of Alsace and Lorraine, the day after Christmas Day (December 26), which is referred to as the Second Day of Christmas, is also celebrated as a public holiday.

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