Every July 14, Paris celebrate La Fête de la Bastille (or La Fête Nationale). In the States, we call it Bastille Day. The people of France stormed a fortress called the Bastille in 1789, demanding the release of political prisoners and igniting the French Revolution. The prison’s destruction is a symbol of the French people’s desire to break the chains of monarchy and instill a democracy.
The French are a fiercely patriotic people, so it’s not surprise that the commemoration of their independence is a big to-do.
Not everyone can zip over to France, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate in your own home. Here are ways to celebrate Bastille Day.
1. Dance the night away.
The Bal du 14 Juillet is an annual dance party that’s traditionally held at the Place d la Bastille – the site of the old fortress. The dance party is held on the night of the 13th so guests can party into the holiday. Each year a different theme is chosen with costumes and live music. You can replicate this experience by hosting a costume ball or masquerade. Choose a clever theme like exotic creatures or 1950s movies.
2. Indulge in a French treat.
When you think of France, what treats come to mind? Macaroons, colorful meringue cookies filled with buttercream, ganache or jam, and buttery pastries. In some regions of France it is customary to have a picnic, but most places enjoy a leisurely meal in the middle of the day. Typically the menu is light, consisting of uncooked vegetables and fruits and appetizers in lieu of entrees. Of course, you’ll need an appropriate Champagne.
Like many holidays commemorating the independence of a nation, Bastille Day is celebrated with elaborate firework demonstrations. When the sun falls, treat your friends or guests to a simple, but tasteful display. Children are fond of handheld sparklers. As always, be safe.
4. Attend a parade.
On Bastille Day, you will find military parades all over France. The nation’s finest service men and women polish their best and march in perfect form through the streets. Unlike American parades, candy is rarely distributed. You aren’t likely to find a large parade in the States, but your local French community center may invite French veterans to speak or take photographs.
5. Don French colors.
Every inch of space in France will be covered with French flags and its colors: blue, blanc, and rouge (red, white and blue). Weave these colors throughout your party space, from your table settings to your invitations. You may wear them about your person, but do so tastefully and respectfully.
6. Include French music.
A French party is not complete without music! Create a playlist of your favorite French songs, including the Marseillaise and traditional accordion music. Consider chanteuses like Carla Bruni or Vanessa Paradis, or play contemporary French pop in the background.
Written by Henri of Henri's Reserve
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