Bastille Day Lesson for Kids: Facts, History & Traditions

Instructor: Elizabeth Diehl

Elizabeth studied to be a special education teacher at Regis University, and received her masters in 2014.

Do you like fireworks and stories about brave people fighting for more freedom? Then you will enjoy learning about an important holiday in France, Bastille Day!

Bastille Day: July 14

Marie stood outside with her family excitedly. This was always her favorite part of the July 14th celebrations. Finally, it was dark enough for fireworks. Marie and all the other French people around her look up and cheer when the first firework shoots across the sky. Marie grins up at her dad and says 'Happy Bastille Day!'

The Original Bastille Day

In 1789, France was getting ready for a revolution; the common people were tired of having a king who controlled everything. Throughout France, there were grumblings about how bad things were. Two big complaints were that the king had made the taxes very high to help pay for his debts, and there was not enough food for everyone. The people wanted a more democratic form of government, and they were ready to fight for it.

The French army was under the control of King Louis XVI, who did not want to give up his power to the people. Everyday people did not have any weapons, only pitchforks and rakes. The common people knew they could not fight the French army this way! So when they heard that there was gunpowder in the Bastille, an old prison in Paris, they decided to attack it.

On July 14, 1789, the common people overcame the guards at the Bastille prison and got the gunpowder. They also happened across some prisoners, so they set them free. Some members of the army even joined the rebels and helped them take the Bastille. The storming of the Bastille prison proved to everyone in France that the people were a serious force that must be listened to.

The attack on the Bastille

Bastille Day Traditions

Think back to your most recent Fourth of July celebration. Most likely, it was similar to how the French, like Marie, celebrate Bastille Day. Marie's family and friends gather together and wear the French flag's colors of blue, white and red. Marie and her family hang flags everywhere, too.

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