Holidays: Bastille Day

Around the world, French National Day fires off in celebration

Bastille Day in Paris, France

By Catherine Harper

In France, July 14 is French National Day, known here as Bastille Day. With fireworks, dancing and parades, Bastille Day is very similar to the Fourth of July in the United States.

According to Dr. Moira DiMauro-Jackson, a modern languages professor and sponsor of Le Cercle Français at Texas State, the holiday is a day of celebration full of “pomp and pageantry.” However, it does get a  bit rowdy.

Photo by Moira DiMauro-Jackson

DiMauro-Jackson, who is currently in France with 20 students in Texas State’s study abroad program, says, “I did want to make sure I avoided the capital for this huge holiday.”

Her group traveled from Paris, the capital of France, to the northwestern city of Rennes last weekend. DiMauro-Jackson says they will be celebrating in the French style: with galas, fireworks and military parades.

Check out some extra tidbits on the history and traditions of this holiday below:

1. Bastille Day (as the holiday is called in English) is named after the Bastille, a historic prison for political dissidents and revolutionaries, which was stormed and destroyed on July 14, 1789, at the start of the French Revolution.

2. The holiday celebrates the end of the monarchy in France and the rise of democratic government.

3. Paris, as the national capital, is the center of the celebration. The holiday’s largest and most famous parade takes place on the Champs-Élysées, a historic boulevard in Paris.

4. Francophone communities around the world — including those in Belgium, Hungary, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States — also celebrate Bastille Day.

France's National Flag

5. Bastille Day is one of the few holidays for which the French flag is flown throughout the nation, as the French reserve flying the flag only for special days.

6. In France, the holiday is commonly referred to as “La Fête Nationale” (the national celebration) or “le quatorze juillet” (the fourteenth of July).

At Texas State, students and staff can enjoy a taste of French culture during fall and spring semesters with student organizations such as: Le Cercle Français (The French Club), Le Ciné-Club Français (The French Cinema Club), and La Table Française (The French Table). For more information, email Dr. DiMaura-Jackson at md11@txstate.edu.

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