France, or the French Republic, is famous and is one of the most modern countries in north-western Europe. The country is known for its classic art history, sophisticated French cuisine, wines, French fashion houses, French culture, and French traditions. French culture is a combination of Celtic, Roman, and Germanic cultures.
France is a country with diverse cultures, a long history, and varied geology, which has influenced the living style of people here to a great extent. In France, the vast majority of people speak French. If you are visiting France and want to experience their customs and traditions, then it would be advised to learn French. But, till then, this article gives insight into some of the most popular French traditions.
Let’s peep into French life and society to find out in detail about their popular French traditions.
Popular French Traditions
Some of the popular French traditions are mentioned below. If you plan to visit France, try to be a part of at least some of these traditions.
1. Bastille Day
Bastille Day is one of the most famous French traditions, which is celebrated on the 14th of July. This day is celebrated as Independence Day and as a national holiday, with parades and fireworks in Paris and all over the country.
The 14th of July is known as the storming of the Bastille prison and the end of Feudalism that later sparked the French Revolution. The French people who were fighting against Feudalism attacked the military prison at Bastille and overthrew the ruling government during that time.
2. Saint Catherine’s Day
Saint Catherine’s Day is among the most famous French traditions, celebrated every year on the 25th of November. The girls who are 25 years of age and over are honored on this day by their friends or colleagues. They are given beautiful cards, decorative hats (yellow or green), or any other gift as a token of good luck on this day.
Saint Catherine’s Day, or the Old Maid’s Day, is an ancient French tradition celebrated to honor Catherine Tate. It is believed that in the 4th century, Saint Catherine, a philosopher and a saint, was seduced by the emperor, but after her rejection, she was martyred by the emperor.
She was recognized as the leader saint of the Catherinette. Later in the Middle Ages, 25-year-old single girls and maids, also known as Catherinettes, took a pilgrimage to the statue of Saint Catherine.
3. Wine Harvest
Wine harvest is one of the famous French traditions in France, celebrated especially during the months from August to October; as we all know, France is well known for its wines. So this is a big harvest festival in France.
France has maintained this huge harvesting process of wine and celebrates it as an occasion. Wine-producing grapes are cultivated in a large area, and all styles of wines, including rose, white, and red wine, sweet, or fortified wines, are harvested on a large scale.
4. La Bise
Faire La Bise is one of the most peculiar French traditions. It is an art of greeting in French culture. Bise means kiss; La bise refers to the light kissing on the cheeks of friends or family members.
Nowadays, it’s common to greet your colleagues with a bonjour and a cheek kiss. One can kiss one, two, or three times. It is considered perfectly okay to kiss the cheeks of females to their male friends in France, and there is nothing romantic about it. Women kiss or give a bise to their male friends, and French men give a bise to their female friends or close male friends, or else they shake hands.
Romans earlier started this French tradition. Later, they spread this custom through Europe and North Africa with their growing empire.
5. April Fish
One of the funniest French traditions is the April fish or the April Fool’s Day, which is celebrated on 1st April. It is also called Poisson d’Avril!
On this day, most of the children play pranks on adults by sticking a paper fish on the back of any stranger. As that person finds a paper fish sticking on his back, the child runs away and shouts Poisson d’Avril” ( April Fool).
April Fool Day began in France after adopting the Gregorian calendar; the new year should begin on the 1st of April. So, on the 1st of April, the French used to joke or make fun of those who had not yet adopted the Gregorian calendar. People also used to send cards and greetings to their dear ones on this day, wishing them a happy new year.
France has given birth to many French customs and traditions that are followed by French people even today. Some are regarded as French national traditions, while others are regional ones. These traditions have been followed by generations after generations for years and have helped sustain the originality and beauty of French culture.