Happy Bastille Day tout le monde!
But exactly what do French people celebrate on July 14th?
Of course, everyone is going to say the Storming of the Bastille, but actually, it may very well not be that. The truth is no one really knows!
During the French Revolution, there were two big July 14th in a row:
July 14th 1789 (The Storming of the Bastille)
La Bastille was a State Prison, which in people’s eyes, represented the tyranny of the monarchy because being sent there was completely arbitrary and did not require any kind of proof or trial. Also, no one knew what went on inside and so it left room for people’s worst fantasies.
We often picture the Storming of the Bastille by the people of Paris as a symbol of freedom because of the image of freeing the prisoners but it was in fact a) to obtain gun powder for the people to defend itself against the foreign armies Louis XVI had rallied for the Royal Family and the Court’s safety and b) to destroy a symbol of the monarchist tyranny. Indeed, there were only 7 prisoners inside the walls of la Bastille and they were almost forgotten!
July 14th 1790 (La Fête de la Fédération)
This day saw the celebration of the short lived Constitutional Monarchy.
This could have been the end of the Revolution as everyone seemed happy with the new prospect of a more liberal and enlightened monarchy. But as we all know the Revolution did not stop then and everything went from bad to worse for the Royal Family and the rest of the country.
So? July 14th? Bastille in 1789 or Fédération in 1790?
July 14th became France’s national day in 1880 at the beginning of the third republic but at the time nobody wanted to say whether they thought more highly of the Revolution or of the Constitutional Monarchy. The Law is purposely not saying much:
“La République adopte la date du 14 juillet comme jour de la fête nationale annuelle”
The Republic adopts the date of July 14th as annual national day.
Bastille Bash 2013 in Madison Valley Seattle
Pictures by Ronald Holden
The Madison Valley Bastille Bash was such a fun and successful event!
The whole neighborhood became super duper French on Saturday! Perfect weather and wonderful food, wine, entertainment and decor!
French Truly had a booth of course and its wonderful helpers Fran Rice, Hildie Sheftel and Roma Call did a fantastic job. We had a raffle for free French groups and a spinning wheel with 8 different games. People loved it and had tons of fun while learning some very interesting facts about the French language and culture!
In the end, we packed it all up, including the balloons… and Thierry Rautureau (owner of LUC and Rover’s)!