Fête nationale – Bastille Day

14 July 2014

Bastille Day is the name given in English-speaking countries to the French National Day, which is celebrated on 14 July each year. In France, it is formally called Fête nationale.

The French National Day commemorates the Fête de la Fédération on 14 July 1790 which was arranged to reconcile the French Nation after a year of political trouble since the birth of the Assemblée Nationale on 21 June 1789.

However, 14 July celebrations were short-lived and it was not until 6 July 1880, under the Third Republic, that 14 July was declared as a national holiday by law. In order to affirm the recovery of France following the 1870 defeat, emphasis was placed on the patriotic and military nature of the celebration, which begins on the night of 13 July, with the retraite aux flambeaux (a re-enactment of the storming of the Bastille, which sees people carrying torch flames).

Celebrations will be held today throughout France. Church bells signalled the start of the oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe this morning on the Champs-Élysées in Paris in front of the President of the Republic, French officials and foreign guests, and dances and fireworks will conclude the day.

14 July has officially been the French Bastille Day since 1880. For the French, it symbolises the end of absolute monarchy and the beginning of the Republic.

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