Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Fransheska. Fransheska Wonders, “Why did the French Revolutionary War start?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Fransheska!

If you live in the United States, July 4 might have special meaning for you. You probably celebrate Independence Day with fireworks or a cookout. But what if you lived in France? Would you believe you’d do much the same thing…only on July 14?

It’s true! July 14 is Bastille Day. That’s what English-speaking countries call France’s annual national celebration. In France, some people call it La Fête Nationale (The National Celebration). Others say it’s le quatorze juillet (the 14th of July).

What does France celebrate on the 14th of July? The day marks the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. This was one of the first events of the French Revolution.

The Bastille was a fortress in Paris used as a prison. It was also a symbol of oppression. Many French citizens suffered injustices there under the rule of Louis XVI. When people stormed the Bastille on July 14, they took ammunition and gunpowder. They also released a few prisoners. 

However, the storming of the Bastille was also symbolic. It represented the uprising of a new French nation. It encouraged those who wanted to end the absolute power of the king.

One year later, on July 14, 1790, the French held the Fête de la Fédération. This was a huge feast that celebrated the uprising that had taken place the year before. The storming of the Bastille was seen as the start of the French Revolution. Since then, the French people had set up a new government by the people. They were ready to celebrate!

Today, celebrations take place all over France on July 14. In fact, Bastille Day is celebrated all over the world by those of French descent. They have giant fireworks displays, feasts, and parties. In Paris, people hold a military parade along the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris in front of the French President. Even many major cities in the U.S. celebrate!

The storming of the Bastille signaled the start of the Great Revolution in France. French citizens celebrate the start of a new form of government on July 14, just like Americans do on July 4. Long live freedom, and vive la France!

Standards: C3.D2.His.1, C3.D2.Civ.12, C3.D2.Civ.14, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1

Wonder What's Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day feels a bit red. Or is it blue? Guess what? It’s up to you!