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 observe 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 holiday. In France, some people call it “La Fête Nationale” (The National Celebration). Others say “le quatorze juillet” (the 14th of July).

Why is the 14th of July so special to people in France? 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. It was seen as the start of the French Revolution.

One year later, on July 14, 1790, the French held the Fête de la Fédération. This was a huge feast. It honored the uprising that had taken place the year before. Since then, the French people had set up a new government by the people. They were ready to celebrate!

Today, all of France marks July 14 with giant fireworks displays, feasts, and parties. In Paris, people hold a military parade along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in front of the French President. People of French descent honor July 14 in similar ways.  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 honor 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

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