14 July 1789 is one of the most famous dates in the history of France. It was the day of storming the Bastille, which was the political prison and symbol of the rule of the House of Bourbons. The event marks the beginning of the French Revolution.
Why do the French celebrate Bastille Day?
Storming of the Bastille is treated by the French as the beginning of modern statehood. The monarchy was abolished and the republic proclaimed. With all of the atrocities, coming with the Revolution, the Republic was more akin to the modern forms of the state than the former regime. Lauding the French Revolution, one should remember the dark side of it, meaning mass executions, religious persecution, anarchy in the streets and similar events.
Bastille Day celebrations in Paris
The centre of the celebrations of Bastille Day is of course Paris. One of the traditions cultivated during it is the flight of French air forces along the Champs Elysees. The planes emit three streaks: white, blue and red. These are the colours of the French flag. Interestingly, the French tricolour, proudly worn in the times of the Revolution, symbolizes the harmonious interactions of the king, the nobility and the people. Every year, military parades are held in the French capital. The Uniforms depart from the Arc de Triomphe and march to the Place de la Concore. After dark, there are festive fireworks displays on the Eiffel Tower. An interesting fact is that the city of Paris does not organize fireworks displays during the New Year celebrations. It leaves this attraction for the very day of the 14th of July. Free classical music concerts are organized in the capital; one can also visit one of the most famous museums in the world, which is the Louvre, for free.
13th of July. Dancing at the fire station
There is an interesting event, which periodically takes place in the capital city of France and in its surroundings, namely the region called Île-de-France. The name of the celebration is the firemen's ball (Le Bal de Prompiers). It's not merely a name, as it may seem at the first glance. It is a real party and firmen are hosts of the meeting. The parties usually start on the eve of Bastille Day, around 9 p.m. They stop not until dawn. In the morning there is some time to sleep. The same firemen, who took part in the event, attend the parade commemorating Bastille Day. The history of the custom, apart from the common usage of such places for dancing, is linked with Napoleon, who used to throw similar types of parties to celebrate his birthday.
Bastille Day celebrations in other parts of the world
As we know, France used to have colonies. Inhabitants of most of those places commemorate Bastille Day somehow. Lets take a look at some of examples. South Africa's Western Cape, which once belonged to France, celebrate the so-called Bastille Festival. In Charotte Amalie, the capital city of Virgin Islands, celebrations of Bastille Day are linked with the festival of the local fishermen. There are also very huge celebrations in India, in the city named Pondicherry. One of the customs of these consists of playing national anthems of both India and France. Why do such a thing?... The city had been under the French dominion for 255 years and recalls it well. But it is the official side of celebrations. What regular people of Pondiherry can do this day in order to commemorate it? They have a possibility of taking part in a parade and to watch fireworks display at the beach. When hungry, they have a possibility of buying various dishes of the world-famous French cuisine, available for the masses on this very day.
Who is more Frech than the French?
Interestingly, there is a nation, which celebrates Bastille Day in an even more elaborate fashion than the French. Who are they and what is the reason for organizing such a powerful feast? Belgians, because we are talking about representatives of this nation, have been celebrating Bastille Day each year since the end of the First World War. They do it in order to express gratitude towards the French for their help against the Germans in the battle of Liège (5–16 August 1914), which marked the beginning of the the I World War. Momentum of these celebrations outstage even the Belgian National Day festivities!
Bastille Day informal celebrations
What about informal celebrations of regular Frenchmen. What do they tend to do on that day? First of all, we have to remember, that Bastille Day is a national holiday, so people don't go to work. Apart from cultural participation and watching the celebrations of various kinds, the Frech drink champagne, have barbecues, and play petanque. Visiting France that day you would surely hear people singing "La Marseillaise". Voila!
We asks for your consent to use your personal data
Personalised ads and content, ad and content measurement, audience insights and product development
Store and/or access information on a device
Your personal data will be processed and information from your device (cookies, unique identifiers, and other device data) may be stored by, accessed by and shared with third party vendors, or used specifically by this site. Some vendors may process your personal data on the basis of legitimate interest, which you can object to by managing your options below.