Bastille Day 2009: History, Photos, & Overview of Celebrations
Bastille Day 2009, the French National Holiday, will be celebrated tomorrow, Tuesday July 14, in France, New York, and around the World.
Bastille Day, as the French equivalent of America's July 4th, is celebrated across France. Celebrations include fireworks, parades, and Firemen's Galas, in which firehouses across France open their doors to the public for a night of partying, dancing, and live demonstrations.
In Paris, festivities begin on the eve of Bastille Day (July 13), when a giant dance party is held in the Place de la Bastille, the square where Bastille once stood. On the morning of Bastille Day a military parade begin a march through Paris at the Champs-Élysées. In the evening, fireworks are launched close to the Eiffel Tower.
Bastille Day commemorates the anniversary of the storming of Bastille, a medieval French fortress and Prison, by the people of Paris on July 14 1789. The storming of Bastille was a major turning point in the French Revolution and is seen as a symbol of France's beginning as a modern nation.
The Bastille was a prison and a symbol of the absolute and arbitrary power of Louis the 16th's Ancient Regime. By capturing this symbol, the people signaled that the king's power was no longer absolute: power should be based on the Nation and be limited by a separation of powers.
Although the Bastille only held seven prisoners at the time of its capture, the storming of the prison was a symbol of liberty and the fight against oppression for all French citizens; like the Tricolore flag, it symbolized the Republic's three ideals: Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity for all French citizens.
Bastille Day is also celebrated outside of France. Some of the biggest celebrations occur in the locations that follow:
- New York has a large Bastille day celebration, as do other cities in the US, including New Orleans, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Seattle.
- South Africa has celebrated Bastille Day for the last 15 years as a week-end festival.
- In Budapest, Hungary, a 2-day celebration is sponsored by the Institute de France.
Philadelphia has one of the most interesting celebrations, lasting 4 days at the Eastern State Penitentiary:
On July 11, revelers are invited to take part in a storming of the Bastille, with Marie Antoinette escorted by armed troops as she shouts “let them eat Tastykake,” throwing the locally-produced pastries from the prison tower.
She’s then presented to the audience, who decide her fate as she stands next to an executioner and real guillotine. French Revolutionaries, played by members of the Old Fort Mifflin Historical Society, also make appearances.