In France, the “Baccalaureat” exam officially starts every year in mid-June. This exam is the gateway to college for French students who just graduated from “Le lycée”. It’s a much anticipated challenge for students who prepare this test, with more or less involvement, during the whole “Terminale” school year. This is what “The Percent” celebration, which takes place in many French areas, is about. But what does this mean?
One hundred (which is CENT in French) days before the test, the reviewing process for test preparation is supposed to start. Therefore, the PERCENT is the count down before the Baccalaureat when students do no longer go out or party. They are supposed to be fully dedicated to the test preparation and focused on passing the exam.
On this day, the school “le lycée” allows the students to wear costumes inside and outside the classrooms. In some cities, this event is such a big day that public transportation adapts their schedule to facilitate everybody’s commute.
Downtown, hundreds of costumed characters hang out and have fun. Some students even organize egg and flour battles in the street! This is a tradition. Students enjoy their last party before ninety nine tough and strict days of study…
The origin of this tradition is in the military field where soldiers were celebrating the end of the Military Duty, one hundred days before the last one. Some young men would even send a funny notice to their families a few weeks ahead, requesting some money to support their party expenses.
So, if you find yourself in France around mid-March, among a nice crowd of costumed and excited students, you don’t have to be afraid!