Celebrations in Canada, Québec & France

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By Mary Clements

July is a special month for many national celebrations!  Canada Day is a traditional day many people use to officially start the summer season and usually the last long weekend before school & summer camp.

On July 1st 1867, Canada signed the British North America Act which then became its first constitution, and obtained its status as a self-governing confederation. However, the celebration wasn’t called Canada Day until 1872. Also, did you know only five provinces celebrated this holiday in the early years? Ontario, Québec, Nova Scotia and British Columbia. It took around 100 years for it to be declared a national holiday!

In Québec, Canada Day (aka La fête de Canada) is also Moving Day! Le jour du déménagement: It is estimated that 700,000 households in Montréal moved on this day in 2009! Although it is a holiday, it is a pretty busy day for the moving companies and understandably, very chaotic!

Do you know which other francophone country celebrates its fête nationale in July? Mais oui, La France! In France, they celebrate their national holiday the 14th of July. On this day, they commemorate La prise de la Bastille (or, in English “the storming of la Bastille”) and Le jour de la confédération , the day when France unified under the same constitution. Check out this video if you want to know more about the history of this day (and test your French listening!).

Nowadays people in France take the day off and they participate in big festivities with lots of dancing and delicious food! One of the most important events  is “Le défilé militaire” in Paris where they honour the French Army, the police and the firefighters.
Another interesting custom happens on July 13th and 14th, where people all over France attend the bals des pompiers or firefighters’ ball. People visit their closest fire station for a big party where they dance, celebrate with friends and watch fireworks.

Here’s some vocabulary to help you celebrate en français!

  • Faire la fête: to party/ to celebrate
  • Faire un pique-nique: to do a picnic
  • Aller au parc: go to the park
  • Regarder des feux d’artifice: watch the fireworks

What about you? Do you celebrate any of these holidays?