France celebrates the Bastille Day today, one of the most important dates in its calendar filled with parades, parties and plenty of food. Its origins go back centuries ago but remains significant each year for the French people.
In Paris, there is a big military parade called the Fete de la Federacion held along the Champs-Elysee where personnel will march, ride and drive while military aircraft will grandly fly over the route. It happens to be the oldest military parade in the world and people by the thousands line up the streets to witness the event.
The event is also attended by world leaders as the French president opens it by addressing the troops. President Donald Trump will attend the celebrations as special guest of honor. There are lots of food with traditional French dishes and for sharing to everyone, as there are many street parties,too.
The general theme of the celebrations revolve- and reverberate- around “liberty, equality and fraternity/brotherhood” which can be constantly heard all over. The three words and the principles behind them also served as the core beliefs behind the revolution in the 18th century.
Google is also honoring the event by releasing a commemorative ‘Doodle ‘. It’s a national holiday in France so all government offices, post offices, banks and many establishments are all close for the day. Public transport may also be limited.
Bastille Day marks the storming of the Bastille in the 1700s, and is known as La Fete Nationale Francaise France. It can be compared to the July 4 Independence Day of the U.S. as it marks the start of republican democracy and the end of tyrannical rule.
Bastille Day becomes even more significant because during the 18th century, France was mired in economic and political crisis and people were dissatisfied with King Louis XVI’s reign marked by high taxes and food shortages. The Bastille served as a medieval fortress and prison, which held many political dissidents, and has become a strong symbol of oppression and injustice in Paris at that time.
Then on July 14, 1789, an angry mob stormed the Bastille and freed the prisoners, only seven at the time, and stole the weapons stored inside. The attack was significant because revolutionaries were able to prove the weakness of the King and his lack of control over his armed forces. It also served as the impetus of the fabled French revolution which eventually overthrew the monarchy. King Louis and wife Queen Marie Antoinette were arrested and executed. Bastille was completely ruined.
The First Bastille Day celebrations happened on the first anniversary of the storming , in the spot where the iconic Eiffel Tower now stands. Bastille has always been celebrated to also remember all those who fought for freedom and justice in society.
Of course, while it is not generally mention, that part of France’s history is also infamous for having killed so many people, when the French used to cut off more heads than ISIS deplorably do today in modern times.