Bastille Day is the name given by English speaking countries to the French National Day celebrated on 14 July. In France, it is formally known as La fête nationale, commemorating Fête de la Fédération of 1790, which celebrates the unity of the French people one year after the storming of the Bastille. The President of the Republic, other political leaders and foreign guests attend a military parade along the Champs-Élysées. Throughout France, people celebrate it by public dancing and fireworks.
The Historical Perspective
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On July 14, 1789, French civilians stormed the Bastille prison, which was a symbol of royal authority and abuse of power, though it housed only seven prisoners. The commander of the prison, known as the Governor, was approached by Parisians to release ammunitions stored there. When he refused, there was a fight between the civilians and the soldiers. Hundred Parisians lost their lives in the fight, though the citizens won in the end. The Governor was decapitated. This event led to the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which became the accepted model of the bill of rights of many nations.
How Do They Celebrate It
Bastille Day is celebrated with great enthusiasm in France. A grand military parade along the Champs-Élysées, which also happens to be one of the best French shopping streets, is held where French jets start the parade with a grand display of the red, white and blue colors of the French flag. Approximately 4000 soldiers, police officers, cadets of military academies and fire fighters take part in the parade with the crowds cheering them on. The 14 julliet military parade is the oldest and largest in Europe.
In the afternoon, the citizens prepare for the fire department balls held in every neighborhood. In the evening, there is a free concert on the Champs-de-Mars, performed by the musicians of the National Orchestra of France and of the Radio France Choir. 500,000 people attend the festivities which end with a spectacular fireworks display at the Eiffel tower.
Bastille Day is celebrated in all the cities and small villages of France who have their own parades and “bal musette” – a French dance accompanied by the accordion. Fireworks are a must everywhere. Some people cheer on the competitors of the Tour De France by waving flags and cheering. People of all ages come together and celebrate the special day.
Special Programs Held Around The World Or In A Region
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The French Cultural Center in Marlborough celebrates Bastille Day through music, French food and drinks. Different musicians enthrall the crowd and it’s always a sold-out event. Musical fests are held at the Botanical Garden of UC along with food and wine. This year the featured artists are French violinist Fabrice Martinez and extremely talented musician George Cole.
Chicago celebrates 14th July by decking Daley Plaza in red, white and blue, the colors of the French flag. There will be a rock concert by French rock group La Jarry , speech by the Consul general of France, and of course, mandatory French food and wine is on the menu. Magicians and jugglers will perform their tricks, waiters will participate in a race with balancing a tray with champagne glasses! There are many more fun things at this entry free event.
The National Museum of Art has the theme Art after Dark for its Bastille Day celebration. The event is from 5 -8 pm, which features caricaturist Dino DiArtist, French lessons, music by the French Horn Collective, a French art tour, learning how to paint et al. Savory French crepes and wine is on the menu.
How People Prepare For It
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Alliance Francois in all countries celebrates Bastille Day. The locals participate in all the festivities. In New York, French Institute Alliance Francois (FIAF) organizes a host of programs. Musical concerts are planned, French films are screened, photo booths, book signings, Kids corner are a part of the program. Free French workshops are offered for those who are interested. And of course, this year, the Euro Cup final between French and Portugal was screened live to mark the celebrations.