By: Robert Dotson
Ever wonder how other countries celebrate how they received their independence? The French celebrate Bastille Day on July 14th. It is the name that English-speaking countries use to call the national day of France. Formally called la Fête nationale also commonly and legally known as le 14 de Juillet. This day in France is celebrated almost as much as the 4th of July here in the United States with enough fireworks to light up the sky and the Eiffel Tower and parades that last the entire day. This day is celebrated not just in France but also around the world promoted by French speaking programs that want to spread the French culture such as République Française, CAFFM, Français du monde, among many other agencies that seek to spread French language and culture throughout the entire world.
The history behind the great significance of this French celebration is quite an interesting one. The French National Day is the anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille back in 1789, an important turning point of the French Revolution in which an army of French men and women stormed the Bastille prison for weapons and supplies and freeing any prisoners that were inside. This day is also known as the anniversary of the unity of France in 1790 in celebration of the Storming of the Bastille to symbolize peace on the Champ of Mars an important field. There are celebrations all across France, and in this day there is the oldest and largest military parade in all of Europe’s history starting from the morning of the 14th on the Champs-Élysées in front of the president. This day is important to the French people because this reminds them of how they rose from the shadow of the old regime of the hierarchy and started a new era for their country.
In Chicago, there is a festival on July 13th at the Lycée Français, Ravenwood, 1929 W Wilson Avenue. In this school the festival is organized by GPF, French-American Chamber of Commerce Chicago, with the participation of Alliance Française Chicago, AFFC to set the event. The venue will be packed with all sorts of activities for people to enjoy and participate in. There is a large picnic area for people to either bring or purchase foods like crepes and hot dogs. Wine and beer will be available as well and all the purchases will be used to pay for the event. There will also be a children’s corner for the kids to paint, play with water balloons among other activities. There will also be a reenactment of the French presence in the Midwest with the colorful uniforms of the Tippecanoe Ancient Fife and Drum Corps. Another fun activity will be the best French sport ever created, Pétanque, that has been played in France for centuries. With a raffle and a Waiter’s Race were would-be waiters run while balancing the tray, this Bastille Day is bound to be fun for everyone.