Today, July 14th, is Bastille Day, the French National Day.
Known as La Fête Nationale (The National Celebration) or le quatorze juillet (the fourteenth of July), in France, Bastille Day doesn’t commemorate the storming of the Bastille prison, but the Fête de la Fédération, which was first held in 1790 on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789.
It’s a small distinction, but an important one.
While the storming of the Bastille was part of the early machinations of the French Revolution, the Fête de la Fédération one year later was seen as the end of that revolution and the commencement of the Constitutional Monarchy.
DID YOU KNOW?: Did you know that the Fête de la Fédération was held on Paris' Champ de Mars, the present-day site of the Eiffel Tower? (see the painting below to see what it looked like back then)
Festivities and official ceremonies are held all over France on Bastille Day.
The oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe is held on the morning of 14 July. It starts at the Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile and works its way down the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris in front of the President of the Republic, French officials and foreign guests.
As with other National Days around the world, Bastille Day is a public holiday filled with community and family activities all over the country. Surprisingly though, for a country that is so inextricably linked with the preparation of amazing food, there is not any particular traditional food served on tables across the country.
Instead, the French get together and celebrate in their own way the revolution, almost 200 years ago, that created one of the world’s most important and influential modern cultures.
So to all of our French friends, Joyeux Quatorze Juillet!