France alludes to the principles of lacité or secularism and has strived to cultivate the ideal of a church separated from the State. Nevertheless, the people and the school holidays in the country follow in the contents of the Catholic Church’s calendar. Consequently, France has found itself entwined with Easter, Christmas, Ascension Day, Pentecost and many other Church feast days with its other national public holidays.Observed public holidays in France The country’s publicly recognized holidays are divided into two distinct types: those that commemorate the feast days of the Catholic Church and those that signify school and national holidays.National holidaysThe list below enumerates a total of 5 national holidays which are observed in France. Combined with the religious holidays, these public holiday events are the country’s main holidays which are distinct from the school holidays also discussed in this article.
New Year’s Day – a public holiday also known in France as the “Premier de l’an/ Jour de l’an” and held on January 1 each year to mark the beginning of the new year.
May Day/Labor Day – known by the French as Fete du Travail to give honor to the workmen of all nations especially French workers.
Victory in Europe Day – celebrated on May 8 and also called Victoire 1945 which marks the end of hostilities in Europe in World War II.
Bastille Day – recalled by the French as Fete Nationale or National Day held on July 14th every year to mark the storming of the Bastille and the birth of a nation. The day is marked by military parades along the Champs-Elysées avenue in Paris before the President of the Republic.
Religious holidaysThe people of France celebrate 7 religious holidays shown in the following list. In most cases, the religious holidays are regarded as national holidays while others are observed locally. In this article they are categorized separately.
Good Friday – a movable feast also known as Vendredi Saint in French which is celebrated on the Friday before Easter Sunday and observed only in Alsace and Moselle.
Easter Monday – known in French as Lundi de Pâques is celebrated on the Monday immediately after Easter Sunday.
Ascension Day – the Thursday which marks 40 days after Easter, the day when, according to traditional Christian belief, Christ ascended into heaven.
Assumption of Mary – a feast day on the Catholic Church commemorates the taking of Mary’s body and soul directly into heaven.
All Saints Day – A Christian feast held on November 1, to commemorate the souls who have gone to heaven.
Christmas Day – a universal feast day for Christians for marking the birth of Christ. The feast is known as Noël in France.
Stephen’s Day – a feast day to mark the death of St. Stephen, the first martyr of the Catholic Church, who was stoned to death by his fellow Jews. The feast is held on December 26 each year.
School holidaysThe school annual calendar in France reserves five holiday seasons for its academic population.
The “vacances de la Toussant” or holidays to mark All Saints Day with one and a half weeks of holiday towards the end of October.
The “vacances de Noël” to mark the Christmas school season with 2 weeks of holidays that end after New Year.
The “vacances d’hiver” or winter season also consisting of 2 weeks holidays.
The “vacances de printemps” or spring season with another 2 weeks of holidays in April and May.
The “vacances d’été” or “grandes vacances” known as the big holidays during the summer or 2 months of holidays in July and August.
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