No matter where we come from, when it comes to Holidays we all enjoy at least one aspect about a certain Holiday. All around the world there are several different Holidays that are celebrated with parties, feasts, parades and why not a couple of days off from school or work.
France shares Holidays with other nations such as:
· New Year’s day (Jour de l'an) – January the 1st
· Labor Day (Fête du premier mai) – May 1
· Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Assomption) – August 15
· Christmas Day (Noël) – December 25
· All Saints Day (La Toussaint) – November 1
However there are specific Holidays that are just celebrated in France such as:
· WWII Victory Day (Fête de la Victoire 1945; Fête du huitième mai) – May 8:
This is a holiday that commemorates the end of World War II and the French people´s freedom. The end of the WWII was announced by Charles de Gaulle in France on May 8, 1945 which actually corresponds to the day of the celebration. Charles de Gaulle was the leader of the Free French forces, when he was going to announce the end of the WW II the church bells rang which shows the link between government and religion in France at that time. De Gaulle´s message marked the end of a six- year war and the oppression from the Nazi.
Schools and colleges spend the time before May 8 studying the history of the WWII and the Nazi oppression. That day the citizens attend to parades, sing patriotic songs and display the French flag in their homes and buildings. Although this holiday is supposed to be joyous it is also a time to remember the family members who died during WWII.
· Bastille Day (Fête nationale) – July 14
The Bastille Day is actually the French national holiday and it commemorates de storming of the Bastille which marks the beginning of the French revolution. The Bastille was a prison during Louis 16th regime, and it symbolizes the arbitrary power of that king. The storming of the Bastille took place on July 14 1789 and it represents: liberty, equality and fraternity just like the flag. Bastille Day was declared the French national holiday on 6 July 1880 and it is of great importance because it symbolizes the birth of the Republic.
Many people attend to the different public celebrations such as: military parades, dances, communal meals, spectacular fireworks displays and even musical performances. The military parades are actually veyr famous and they include the participation from: the navy, the aircraft, cadets from military schools etc. It is also common for some people to spend the day with their family or close friends and eat a celebratory meal.
Armistice day (L'Armistice) – November 11
The event that triggered WWI was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria by a Bosnian- Serb Nationalis on June 28 1914. The consequence of this unfortunate event was the creation of alliances, leading European powers to war in just a few weeks. After more than 15million and deaths and almost 4 years of fighting WWI came to an end on November 11, 1918. The different fronts singed an armistice treaty for war to be over. WWI formally ended at 11:11 am on November 11, 1918 thanks to the armistice treaty; and since October 24 1922, the Armistice Day became an official French holiday.
The purpose of this holiday is to remember those who died or were injured during WWI, that is why it is considered a solemn occasion. In this day the church offers special services to remember those who died in WWI and other wars. There are also organized military parades to war memorials ant to the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Paris” which is under the Arch de Triomphe. Citizens and public figures lay flowers and wreaths at war memorials and cemeteries; it is also common for people to wear black clothes that day.