Bastille Day, sometimes called the American Spring Festival, is the second-largest festival in France. A grand celebration with parades and general unrest often marks this celebration. Many traditions surround this day in France, and those who observe this festival usually do so with much pomp and circumstance.
However, when you hear about the history of Bastille Day, you may be more interested in what this special day meant to France and the people there during the Revolution.
When Is Bastille Day?
- Year > 2024
- Date > 14th July
- Weekday > Wednesday
Bastille Day History
Bastille Day was started when the National Assembly was discussing the rights of French citizens. When this bill was being debated, a crowd began setting fire to the Bastille, one of the symbols of Paris as a city. The smoke caused the doors to lock, and then the doors were closed again as the entire town came under attack. When the crowds became unruly and riotous, the National Assembly was forced to relocate to another location.
When the assembly was finally relocated to Paris, they declared the beginning of the world’s first free and democratic government. For two years, they experimented with holding the Bastille Day celebration every year, but it was not until 1792 that the official celebration of Bastille Day began. This bold move ignited the spark of American Independence, and the United States declared independence from England. Two hundred years later, we are still celebrating the memory of the brave men who gave up their lives for the freedoms that we enjoy today. This past weekend saw the grand opening of the Bastille Day museum in Paris, dedicated to the memory of all those who lost their lives during the Revolution.
Bastille Day Celebrations
During the evening before Bastille Day, people in the general public can begin to celebrate and enjoy the holiday by attending parades. The City of Paris sponsors many parades, and the entire area is decorated with festive colours and symbols representing the day’s spirit. Some of the more popular places to take in the parades include Place de la Concorde, Place de la Loire, Place du Champs Elysee, and in some locations outside Paris itself, Place d’ Scope.
The celebration ends with a fireworks display at the end of the day or as soon as the weather permits, as the case may be. The Bastille Day celebration is grand in and of itself, but there is also the possibility of an evening celebration.
Bastille Day Traditions
On July 14th, Bastille Day is considered the most national holiday besides Christmas. In fact, on this day, French people observe a form of national independence day because the French nation was left alone after the collapse of the Revolution. This is also a commemoration of how the people of the French Republic gained their freedom from the rule of the Revolution and how they later regrouped and established a nation-state. This national holiday is celebrated in France and several other countries in Europe and South America.
In many parts of Europe, people celebrate Bastille Day with parades and street parties in many neighbourhoods. The day is also marked with special music, literature readings, and traditional street games. In the United States, however, Bastille Day has more of a purely culinary meaning. People celebrate this memorable holiday by eating homemade cakes and other food items rich in cream and sugar.