Bastille Day 2019 – what does it mark and why is it such a huge celebration in France? – The Sun

Bastille Day 2019 – what does it mark and why is it such a huge celebration in France? – The Sun

July 11, 2019

BASTILLE Day is one of the most important dates in the French calendar and is celebrated with parades, parties and plenty of food.

Its origins hark back centuries – so what's the significance and why is it marked every year? Here's all you need to know…

When is Bastille Day 2019?

Bastille Day is celebrated across France every July 14, meaning festivities will be kicking-off this year on Sunday.

It is known formally in France as La Fete Nationale or Le 14 Juillet.

Many people attend large public events, including parades, performances and firework displays.

In Paris, there is a big military parade called the Fete de la Federation held along the Champs-Elysee, where personnel march, ride and drive as military aircraft fly over the route.

It's the oldest military parade in the world and thousands of people line the streets to watch.

The event is usually opened by the French president, who addresses the troops, and attended by world leaders.

People also mark the occasion with communal meals filled with traditional French dishes and street parties.

The words "liberty, equality and fraternity (brotherhood)" can be heard during the celebrations.

They were the three core beliefs of the people behind the revolution in the 18th century.

As it's a national holiday, the post offices, banks and many businesses all close.

Public transport may also be affected and roads might be closed.

What is Bastille Day and why does France celebrate it?

Bastille Day is a French national holiday, which marks the storming of the Bastille in the 1700s, and is known as La Fête Nationale Française in France.

Similarly to Independence Day – every July 4 – in the United States, the date marks the beginning of republican democracy and the end of tyrannical rule.

In the 18th century, France was in deep economic and political crisis and people were unhappy with King Louis XVI's reign, which was dominated with food shortages and high taxes.

The Bastille was a medieval fortress and prison, which held many political dissidents, and had become a symbol of oppression and injustice in Paris.

On July 14, 1789, an angry mob stormed the Bastille and released the prisoners – of which there were just seven at the time – before stealing the weapons stored inside.

The invasion was significant at the time because it proved to revolutionaries that the King had little control over his armed forces and undermined his power.

It was the beginning of what later became known as the French Revolution and the monarchy was eventually overthrown.

King Louis and his wife Queen Marie Antoinette were arrested and eventually executed – along with other supporters of the royal family.

Bastille itself was completely destroyed – and people took rocks to make mementos like bracelets and brooches – and only a memorial stands on the site.

The first Bastille Day celebrations took place on the first anniversary of the storming, in the spot where the Eiffel Tower now stands.

The iconic landmark officially opened in 1889 – exactly a century after the storming of Bastille and was built to celebrate the 100th anniversary.

People danced in the street and flew the French flag – a tradition still in place to this day.

A politician named Benjamin Raspail proposed that July 14 should become a holiday in France in 1880.

It's been held every year since to remember those who fought for freedom and justice in society.

Is there an increased terror threat on Bastille Day?

Police, soldiers and emergency staff remain on high alert for terrorist attacks after Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel drove a 19-tonne cargo lorry into crowds celebrating Bastille Day on July 14, 2016.

The sickening act in Nice killed 86 people and injured 434 more.

After an armed exchange with police Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was shot and killed.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack and then French President Francois Hollande called the killings an act of Islamic terrorism.​

And ahead of the 2018 celebrations an alleged far-right extremist was arrested for plotting to shoot Emmanuel Macron in front of US President Donald Trump.

The plot was foiled when the unidentified 23-year-old Frenchman attempted to buy a Kalashnikov rifle on the internet.

Sections of the media likened the plot to The Day of the Jackal – a novel which focused on a professional assassin who had been recruited to kill President Charles de Gaulle.

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