8 things to know about Bastille Day

Updated

The French people will be celebrating their national pride today, July 14th. But there’s more to France than the delicious macarons and nutella-filled crepes. Here are some facts about la fête nationale:

1. Bastille Day is celebrated annually on July 14th to commemorate the historical Storming of the Bastille.

The Storming of the Bastille took place during the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789. The 14th was also chosen because the following year, the French people celebrated the Fête de la Fédération, which was a day to commemorate the temporary unity of the French nation.

France Bastille Day celebrations
Jets for the Patrouille de France fly over the Arc of Triomphe during the traditional Bastille Day parade in Paris, France, 14 July 2015. 
Photo by Thibault Camus/POOL/EPA

2. The Bastille was a royal fortress prison that became a symbol of the French people’s frustrations with the Bourbon monarchy.

At the time, the infamous Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were the King and Queen of France. They and their royal predecessors are known as the ancien regime or ancient regime. They were resented by the people of France, who were experiencing severe food shortages and felt like their government was against them. By storming the Bastille, the French people saw themselves as the liberators of their country.

Marie-Antoinette married Louis XVI in 1770 and became Queen of France in 1774. Here, Marie-Antoinette and her husband, Louis (1754 - 1793), hold court in their apartments at Versailles (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty).
Marie-Antoinette married Louis XVI in 1770 and became Queen of France in 1774. Here, Marie-Antoinette and her husband, Louis (1754 - 1793), hold court in their apartments at Versailles. 
Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty

3. During the “storming,” out of the 300 revolutionaries who rushed into the prison, 100 were killed or wounded by the guards protecting the prison.

The revolutionaries proved successful and Bernard-Jordan de Launay, the governor of the Bastille who launched the attack on the revolutionaries, was brought to Hotel de Ville, where he was murdered. This day marked the beginning of the end of the ancien regime.

Storming The Bastille (Photo illustration by Jules David/Hulton Archive/Getty).
French troops storm the Bastille during the French Revolution. The prison represented the hated Bourbon monarchy and Bastille day is now celebrated as the beginning of the revolution. Jul. 14, 1789.
Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty

4. During the day of the holiday, there is a large military parade that takes place along the Champs Elysées, the famous French avenue that runs from the Arc de Triomphe. It is the biggest parade that takes place in all of Europe.

During the 2015 parade, three different anti-terror squads marched in the parade to honor the 10,000 troops that helped secure safety in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

Bastille Day Military Ceremony On The Champs Elysees
Students of the French Special Military school of Saint Cyr march down the Champs-Elysees avenue during the annual Bastille Day military parade, on July 14, 2014, in Paris, France.
Photo by Chesnot/Getty

5. Among the celebrations, there is the Bals des pompiers or Fireman’s balls.

This tradition, which started in 1937, is carried out by fire stations opening their doors to host fundraising dance parties. The money collected goes to help funding of the fire stations all over France.

Officers dance on stage at a Fireman's ball during Bastille Day in Paris (Photo by Caroline Silber).
Officers dance on stage at a Fireman’s ball during Bastille Day in Paris, France on Jul. 14, 2013.
Photo by Caroline Silber

6. Similar to the spirit of America’s Independance Day, the French use fireworks to celebrate this day.

After a long day of various activities, the sky above the Eiffel Tower is lit up with a grand display of fireworks.

The Eiffel Tower is illuminated during the traditional Bastille Day fireworks display in Paris (Photo by Benoit Tessier/Reuters).
The Eiffel Tower is illuminated during the traditional Bastille Day fireworks display in Paris, France on Jul. 14, 2014. 
Photo by Benoit Tessier/Reuters

7. Bastille Day isn’t a celebration localized to France– celebrations take place all over the world.

Two particularly large celebrations take place in New Orleans, where francophiles celebrate the holiday for a week long, and in New York City, where a block party takes place on 60th street.

Members take part in the French Institute Alliance Francaise's street fair to celebrate Bastille Day in New York, N.Y. (Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty).
Members take part in the French Institute Alliance Francaise’s street fair to celebrate Bastille Day in New York, N.Y. on Jul. 13, 2014. 
Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty

8. The president of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto, attended the 2015 celebration in Paris.

He was accompanied by First Lady, Angelica Rivera.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (c) and French Finance Minister Michel Sapin (Rear L) attend a wreath laying ceremony on the tomb of the unknown soldier at the Arc de Triomphe monument (Photo by Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty).
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (c) and French Finance Minister Michel Sapin (Rear L) attend a wreath laying ceremony on the tomb of the unknown soldier at the Arc de Triomphe monument in Paris, France on Bastille Day, Jul. 14, 2015.
Photo by Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty

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8 things to know about Bastille Day

Updated