France National Holiday Celebration Of Bastille Day

The national holiday of France is observed on July 14 every year. Referred to as “La Fete Nationale” or “Le Quatorze Juillet” in French, this special day is a commemoration of the 1789 siege of the Bastille prison; hence, this day is also known as Bastille Day.

The Bastille fortress represented the absolutistic subjugation of the French people, so that it’s storming on July 14, 1789 signaled the French people’s defiance against that virtual one-man rule and gave birth to modern France. The significance of this event was that the French people realized that the real power was in their hands and not in their king’s.

On the morning of this important day, festive activities are held on the prestigious Avenue des Champs-Elysees in the capital city of Paris. The most prominent one, held right in front of the President of France, is the grand parade participated in by men and women from various units of the armed forces. These include those from La Royale (the French Navy), the elite Legion etrangere (the French Foreign Legion), and the Armee de l’Air (the French Air Force).

Even cadets from military schools and firefighters from the Brigade des Sapeurs-Pompiers de Paris (the Paris Fire Brigade) take part in the military parade, with the latter bringing up the rear. Above the parade route fly military aircraft (such as the Rafale and the Mirage F1). Thousands of people witness the parade as the President reviews the troops.

Elsewhere, there are musical presentations, programs, and such other performances that highlight the French culture. Of course, the celebration is not complete without the usual spectacle – the fireworks display. For other people, the day is an occasion for simple family gatherings or enjoying the company of friends in excursions or outings.

The National Day of France has two important symbols: the Tricolore (the French national flag) and the Eiffel Tower. The latter is the most prominent symbol of France and is in fact that country’s world icon. The structure is noted for being the “single most visited paid monument in the world”, and this is especially true on Bastille Day.

The law that made July 14 France’s yearly national holiday was actually made official on July 6, 1880. Then, the French Interior Ministry recommended that the special day be observed with grandeur.

Interestingly, at least four other countries celebrate Bastille Day. The United Kingdom celebrates the day in various locations in England; Hungary celebrates it in its capital city Budapest; South Africa holds its celebrations in the old town of Franschhoek; and the United States has at least nine cities observing the day.

The cities of Baltimore, Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle have large celebrations during this day. Included in these celebrations are musical performances, circus, and other forms of merrymaking. People in these cities go on picnics, partaking in French food, pastries, and wine. In some of these cities, the celebration begins with a reenactment of the storming of the Bastille.

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