Happy 14th of July ! I´m still in Sweden but I will have a special thought for my country today. Bastille day is an important celebrating. I just loved singing the national anthem “La Marseillaise” when I was a child and watch the amazing fire works.
You might have thousands questions about our celebration, so I will try to give you some answers.
Bastille Day, the French national holiday, commemorates the storming of the Bastille, which took place on 14 July 1789 and marked the beginning of the French Revolution. The Bastille was a prison and a symbol of the absolute and arbitrary power of Louis the 16th’s Ancient Regime. By capturing this symbol, the people signaled that the king’s power was no longer absolute: power should be based on the Nation and be limited by a separation of powers.
The biggest tradition is the parade that takes place every year on the morning of Bastille Day. A military parade makes an impressive showing of all the branches of the French military, (naval and army on the ground, and air force flying above) and is held on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. Of course, Bastille Day is celebrated in all corners of France, not just in Paris. In fact, Bastille Day is even celebrated in other countries by smaller groups of people who have some sort of ancestral or cultural connection to France.
On the eve of the 14th of July, people can attend various public balls in the evening, often held in fire brigade barracks, and many towns have fireworks. The next day (14th) is France’s national day and all businesses are usually closed (a number of them are closed anyway for the summer holidays). It is very common for people to watch on TV (or on the spot for the Parisians) the military parade on the Champs-Elysées, and enjoy the day off.
The French national anthem La Marseillaise, translated in English as The Song of Marseille, is often heard on Bastille Day. This French traditions song commermorates the French Revolution of 1789.
La Marseillaise was written on April 4, 1792 by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle in Strasbourg. It was originally titled, Chant de Guerre pour L’Armée du Rhin or The War Song for the Army of the Rhine. The song was written as a response to the invasion of France by Prussian and Austrian forces who were later defeated at the Battle of Valmy.
No French holiday would be complete without a lavish and utterly delicious meal. In some regions of France it is customary to have a picnic on Bastille Day, but in most regions, families head home to enjoy a nice leisurely meal in the middle of the day. Of course, many families enjoy this meal at home in their backyards or gardens in order to enjoy the weather.
This special meal can consist of just about anything, but, generally speaking, the menu is light compared to winter holidays (less butter and cream and more herbs and uncooked fruits and vegetables). In addition, the courses are more likely to include cold starters, such as quiches and salads instead of soup or other warm starters. Expect a delectable dessert to be the crowning glory on the meal, and do expect the meal to linger on and on. A big feast on Bastille Day in the middle of the day is often followed by a very leisurely afternoon.
The French Tricolore flag symbolizes the Republic’s three ideals: Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity for all French citizens and it took shape during the French Revolution.