Bastille Day is a French national holiday that takes place every year on July 14. The event commemorates the storming of the Bastille, which took place on July 14, 1789 and marked the beginning of the French Revolution.
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.
In France, it is formally called La Fête Nationale (The National Celebration) and commonly Le Quatorze Juillet (the fourteenth of July). Festivities and official ceremonies are held all over France.
It opens with cadets from the École Polytechnique, Saint-Cyr, École Navale, infantry troops, and the Patrouille de France aerobatics which fly above the parade. An interesting historical and political note to add: Article 17 of the Constitution of France gives the President the authority to pardon criminals and, since 1991, the President has pardoned many petty offenders (mainly traffic offences) on July 14. In 2007, former President Sarkozy declined to continue the practice.
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