Your Celebration Guide To France’s National Holidays
Tourists often don’t understand why some shops and museums are closed on Sundays, Mondays or Tuesdays in France. Yet the explanation is really simple for us French people. It’s a day off. In addition to these days, you can add eleven other days off which are national holidays. Here’s what they are:
January 1st: New Year’s Day
New Year’s Day was based on the Pope Gregory’s solar Calendar, which is now called the Gregorian calendar. New Year’s Day is celebrated in most countries, but each one of them has its own tradition. In France, it is traditional to eat foie gras, drink champagne, party all night and kiss people on the cheek at midnight.
Easter Monday is the day after Easter, so the date changes every year. Basically, it’s the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, but it is now a great excuse to eat chocolate for most French people. We hide Easter eggs in the garden and children will then go find them.
May 1st: Labor Day
The Labor Day is a national day made to celebrate the fight of workers for their rights, as it was a symbolic fight for the eight-hour working day. Now, the day is still used to demonstrate on the street. It’s tradition on Labor Day to offer a sprig of lily of the valley to someone.
May 8th: VE Day Europe
VE Day Europe is the celebration of the Allies’ victory in World War II through Germany’s surrender. It is also the day of the Sétif, Guelma and Kherrata massacres (which was labeled as a form of ‘repression’ against protests for Algeria’s independence) in Algeria during the French colonial era.
Ascension Day is a Christian celebration that’s held 40 days after Easter. It commemorates Jesus last meeting with his disciples and his elevation into heaven.
This is held ten days after Ascension Day. It’s another Christian celebration to commemorate the coming of the Holy Spirit.
July 14th: Bastille day
July 14th is the official French national day delegated to celebrating the French republic. It represents the end of the monarchy. We celebrate it with a big military parade on the Champs Elysées in Paris, tons of fireworks and dancing balls almost everywhere in France.
August 15th: Assumption Day
Assumption Day is a Christian celebration to commemorate Mary’s (mother of Jesus) elevation to heaven.
November 1st: All Hallows’ Eve
One more Christian celebration to commemorate all the saints. We celebrate it as “Halloween” just like every English-speaking country. On Halloween, we dress up as monsters, go to parties and allow the children to go ask for candy around the neighborhood.
November 11th: Armistice
The significance of the Armistice is that it marks the end of the bloody fight that was World War I in 1918. France was among the victors. Today, every town has its own war memorial and people gather there to pay tribute to those who died for France.
December 25th: Christmas
Basically, Christmas started as the celebration of Jesus’ birth, but now it’s become a very commercial holiday. Children write a letter with their wishes in it to Santa Claus, who is called “Le Père Noël” here. The family also gathers together on Christmas night to have dinner and to open their presents.
I have only one more thing to say: