Millions of French people all over the world are celebrating Bastille Day, a holiday that honors democracy and equality in France.
What is Bastille Day?
Bastille Day commemorates the storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution.
On July 14, 1789, just two days after the revolution began, a mob broke into the Bastille Fortress in Paris, which held stockpiles of weapons as well as political prisoners. After taking gunpowder and arms, the mob killed the prison’s governor and infamously held his head on a stick, according to the British Library.
The storming sent a signal to the French monarchy that the French people were embracing the revolution’s motto, liberté, égalité, fraternité, or liberty, equality and brotherhood. The riot was a call for the establishment of a republic in France in the face of an oppressive regime and food shortages that spurred on the revolution.
How is Bastille Day celebrated?
In Paris, Bastille Day is celebrated with a military parade down the Champs-Élysées, one of the city’s major avenues. The parade starts at the Arc de Triomphe and ends at the Place de la Concorde.
Thousands dance and cheer alongside the parade, and parties take place throughout the city.
Last year, President Donald Trump joined French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris for the festivities. This year, Macron invited the leaders of Japan and Singapore. Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is joining Macron for the parade, but Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is being represented by Foreign Minister Taro Kono in order to handle deadly flooding in Japan, according to Reuters.
The parade lasts more than two hours and involves over 4,200 soldiers, 220 vehicles and 100 aircraft. Japanese and Singaporean soldiers are also taking part in the parade to represent their respective relationships with France.
Bastille Day celebrations are not limited to Paris. Across France, other parades and parties will commemorate the move towards democracy over 200 years ago. Festivities will also take place in countries around the world, including South Africa and India.