On July 14, we celebrate the French National Day. Military parade and fireworks take place . But why this date ?

French national day
French national day, on July 14th

Louis XIV gave a lot of fireworks

Every year in France, a fireworks display takes place to celebrate the national holiday, July 14. Very old, the tradition of fireworks has not always had the festive meaning that we know today. Fireworks are, in fact, one of the few symbols of the monarchy that the French people wanted to keep. In the 17th century, during princely festivals, Louis XIV gave a lot of fireworks. Victories, weddings, baptisms… At Versailles or Fontainebleau, fireworks were reserved for the nation’s elite. Abandoned for several years, it was under the Third Republic (1870-1940) that didactic fireworks arose: the notion of spectacle on one side, that of teaching on the other. At the time, we read « Vive la République » on a kind of tracing paper, before the letters ignited in the sky. The idea was to send a message to the people by entertaining them. National Day in France commemorates the storming of the Bastille in Paris by rioters on Tuesday, July 14, 1789.

French national day
French national day, copyright : Elysée

The end of the old regime of the monarchy

It is one of the iconic events that marks the start of the French Revolution and the end of absolute monarchy. This date famous in the history of France took place in Paris in 1789. The Bastille was a former royal prison, considered at the time as the symbol of the king’s arbitrary power. When the Parisians besieged it, they expected to find many prisoners there. But that was not the case since in reality there were only 7 people in prison. However, this revolt marked the end of the old regime of the monarchy and, in many ways, the beginning of the French Revolution (1789-1799). This event and the future revolutions it sparked had a great impact on the country and on Europe in general. But July 14 is also the day of the celebration of the federation. On July 14, 1790, a year later, the deputies of the 83 French departments as well as King Louis XVI gathered in Paris to celebrate the storming of the Bastille.

French national day
French national day : a sybol of the end of monarchy absolutism

The French national day : A moment of reconciliation and unity

This celebration represented a moment of reconciliation and unity for the French people and also gave birth to France as a nation. These two events still have a great influence on French society. The French are proud of this part of their history which led to their national motto, « Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. » Each year, a national parade serves as a reminder that in other times men rose up against monarchical tyranny. Since this famous date, many political rallies have taken place on the square where the Bastille once stood. July 14 is a public holiday in France. In Paris, a military parade is organized on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Army units parade in front of the President of the Republic, other state authorities and guests. Almost everywhere in France, representatives of the State and the military authorities organize parades of arms (mini-parades of local military units). In the evening (and often even the night before), in very many French towns, free popular balls (financed by the municipalities), fireworks and torchlight processions take place.

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