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City-national holidays


31 December - 1st January: New Year's Eve - New Year's Day
The New Year is celebrated throughout France. The tradition is to kiss the people you are with when midnight strikes and to wish them a Happy New Year.

06 January: Twelfth Night
This is a Christian celebration of the visit of the Three Wise Men to the newborn Jesus. In France it is also called the "fête des rois": bakers put all their heart into making almond cakes which allow you to win a king or queen thanks to the charm hidden inside.

14 February: St Valentine's Day
Also called the "Fête des amoureux" (Lover's day). On this day, all means are used to declare your Love for someone. Cupid has become its emblem.

Shrove Tuesday (Between end February and early March)
This is the day before the first day of Lent. Nowadays Shrove Tuesday in France is a holiday, especially for children, with fancy dress and pancakes.

Ash Wednesday - Lent
Ash Wednesday is a Catholic feast day. It is the first day of Lent and the priest marks the foreheads of the faithful with a pinch of ash to call them to penance. Lent lasts for forty days, during which Catholics devote themselves to the spiritual preparation of Easter, observing practices of abstinence and of fasting.

Easter
Easter is an annual Christian feast commemorating the resurrection of Christ. It is celebrated on the Monday following the forty days of Lent. The tradition now demands that "bells" leave chocolates for the children to end the period of fasting.

Last Sunday in April: recollection of concentration camp prisoners
This day is dedicated to people sent to concentration camps during the Second World War and to remembering them. Sprays of flowers are placed on the commemorative monuments.

1st May: Labour Day
Labour Day is a holiday respected throughout France and legally imposed.

8 May: Anniversary 1945
This is also a bank holiday celebrating the end of the German occupation of France during the Second World War.

Ascension Day
This celebrates the miraculous ascension of the risen Christ, leaving Earth and going up to heaven. In France, Ascension Day is a bank holiday.

End May: Mother's Day
The date varies. Mothers are honoured on this day. Tradition has it that children offer their mother a present. This is an important day instilled into children at school where they prepare their present.

Whit Sunday
This is a Christian feast celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles. It is celebrated on the seventh Sunday after Easter. Whit Monday is a bank holiday.

Father's Day
The date varies. It is similar to Mother's Day but for fathers.

21 June: Fête de la musique (Music Festival)
The "fête de la musique" marks the transition from spring to summer (summer solstice). France lives to the rhythm of music, in streets, bars and restaurants. Numerous musicians and groups offer their shows on this occasion.

14 July: National Holiday
This is a bank holiday celebrating the Parisian uprising, the first of the French Revolution, which led to the storming of the Bastille. Fireworks followed by local dances can be enjoyed all over France.

15 August: Assumption
This is a public holiday celebrating the ascent into heaven of the soul and of the body of the Virgin Mary. Processions are organized to celebrate Mary.

1st November: All Saints' Day
This is a Catholic feast held in honour of all the saints. It is a bank holiday.

2 November: All Souls' Day
This is a day of contemplation at family tombs.

11 November: Armistice
The Armistice, which ended the First World War, is celebrated on this day in France. Sprays of flowers are placed on commemorative monuments.

25 December: Christmas
This is a bank holiday. It is the feast of the birth of Jesus Christ. In France, the symbols of Christmas are decorated Christmas trees, the meal on Christmas Eve (the 24th in the evening) after the midnight mass and the giving of presents.

   

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