Bastille Day!

Bastille Day! You need not be French to celebrate.

Bastille Day! You need not be French to celebrate.

On July 14 we celebrate Bastille Day. This French National Holiday is celebrated by liberty loving people around the globe.

In 1789 tensions were high in France as a growing group of ordinary citizens were pushing for a national constitution. These French citizens were inspired by the newly independent United States of America and their newly formed Constitution that was adopted that same year. In May 1789 Louis XVI allowed the grievances to be heard and eventually the constitution movement gained some recognition in June of 1789. This led to the forming of the National Constituent Assembly on July 9 in order to draft a constitution.

Shortly thereafter the French finance minister, Jacques Necker, who was sympathetic to the cause of the National Constituent Assembly was dismissed. This led to growing fears that the movement was destined to be squashed by the royal army. A group of pro-constitution citizens made there way to the Bastille on July 14, 1789 in order to gain control of the large number of arms, munitions, and gunpowder stored there. The guards resisted and the crowd stormed the Bastille and gained control of the cache of arms, as well as freeing seven prisoners being held at the Bastille. In the end 99 were dead and the event has sparked the French revolution.

July 14, often called la fête nationale in France, became an official holiday in 1880. It’s a day of parades, fireworks, and public celebration and pride. The slogan “Vive le 14 juillet!” (“Long live the 14th of July!”) is a common refrain on Bastille Day.

Perhaps you too can celebrate French Independence with a French inspired party of your own.

Check our French Wine Primer.

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