Why is July 14th a public holiday in France? Origin and story of the National Day

Published by Caroline J. · Updated on 14 July 2021 at 11h07 · Published on 10 August 2020 at 13h30
Every July 14th, France celebrates its National Day, also known as Bastille Day. But do you really know what happened on July 14, 1789? And do you know since when July 14th is a public holiday in France? We tell you more about it.

There are some unmissable public holidays in France. And this is the case of July 14th; a day with many celebrations such as military parade, firefighters’ dances, without forgetting firework shows. But do you know why July 14th is a public holiday in France? Do you want us to tell you?

Of course, July 14th refers to the storming of the Bastille, the famous royal prison, on July 14, 1789. That day, five canons taken in the morning at the Invalides are set in front of the Bastille by “gardes-françaises”. Around 5 p.m., the garrison of the Bastille surrenders and Parisians, who came to get powder and bullets, storm the Bastille. It is only the next morning that the king, Louis XVI, is told about the event. The Duke of La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt leaves a now-famous note, “No, Sire, this is a revolution”. This historical event will mark the beginning of the French Revolution and the end of the absolute monarchy.

But July 14th also refers to the Celebration of the Federation, a year after the storming of the Bastille, naming July 14, 1790, this major event marking the reconciliation between the king and the French people. King Louis XVI steps in as the chief executive and swears an oath to the Constitution and the Nation with deputies of the 83 departments of that time.

Last but not least, in 1880, the Republican deputies face the necessity to give a collective celebration to the Nation. But what day to choose and how to choose? Several dates are named, but July 14th seems obvious. On May 21, 1880, a deputy in Paris, Benjamin Raspail, drafts a bill. The law is announced on July 6th, ten years after the 3rd Republic was born. July 14th is declared as National Day and a public holiday.

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