Saturday, July 14, 2012

July 14th- Bastille Day (France)

Bastille Day, or, as it is referred to in French, "La Fête Nationale", is France's National Day. Celebrated annually on July 14th, "Le Quatorze Juillet", the day commemorates the pivotal storming of the Bastille, striking this same day in 1789. 

The Bastille was a prison fortress in Paris which usually held political prisoners whose crime was writing pieces that offended the royal government. These people were often held in the prison without any fair trial under the notion that their sentence was final and would never be appealed. The unlawfulness of the practices at the Bastille symbolized the absolutism in France headed by King Louis XVI. So, when the people of France stormed the Bastille, it was not only a mere victory over the prison guards, but also the beginning of the triumph over King Louis XVI's absolute monarchy and the start of the French Revolution. Shortly after, feudalism was abolished and The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was established. Exactly one year after the storming of the Bastille, the Fête de la Féd ération was held to celebrate the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in France. 

On July 14th, 1880, Bastille Day was celebrated as a national holiday for the first time. Although the largest celebrations for the holiday are in France, Bastille day is also observed in Martinique, New Caledonia, French Guiana, Reunion, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin French Polynesia, and anywhere large groups of French people reside. Traditions for celebrating the day include parties, musical performances, dances, and balls. In the morning, a military parade is held in Paris on the famous Champs-Elysées, proceeding from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde. Many members of French service men and women participate in the parade, and all the countries of the Allies in the Versailles Peace Conference are represented. This parade is very popular in France with many guests in attendance and is also broadcasted on television. In the evening, fireworks are shot off near the Eiffel Tower. Throughout the entire day, the colors of the French flag are observed. The three equal stripes of "bleu, blanc, and rouge" symbolize the three ideals of the French Republic: Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. Between the modern celebration and the rich history of Bastille Day, the July 14th commemoration is without a dout a firm representation of patriotism and a day of pride for the French people. 

The French Flag

The Storming of the Bastille


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