We just celebrated Easter in France. Unlike in the United States, Easter Monday is also a holiday in France. This means that we do not work as this day was traditionally spent for family time and religious celebration.
Here are the other observed holidays in France: 12 a year in total.
January 1st: This is the first day of the year. It is an observed holiday since the night before, everybody was partying for New Years Eve, on “Saint Sylvester”. On January 1st one needs to rest!
Easter Monday: This is a day for catholic celebrations that is not on a fixed date, but is always the day after Easter Sunday. Easter is also the day where families organize eggs hunts for kids! The parents hide chocolate eggs in the gardens and children pick them up in a basket.
Labor Day: This holiday is observed on May 1st. It celebrates the first strike in the United States which took place in Chicago on May 1st 1886, resulting in 8 hour work days becoming the standard. Every year in France, workers protest in the street but people also buy lily of the valley from the many sales people who pop up everywhere that day. The tradition has nothing to do with the May 1st protest. It is just believed that buying a bunch of lilies of the valley on May 1st is supposed to bring luck for the whole year!
May 8th 1945: French people celebrate the end of the Second World War. On May 8th, 1945 Germany surrendered. Since then, May 8th pays tribute to the lives that have been lost during this war.
Ascension Thursday: This day is not a fixed date either! This catholic celebration is set forty days after Easter. Most French people choose to make it a “bridge” which means having a four day weekend by taking the Friday off combined with the holiday!
Pentecote Monday: The day after Pentecote Sunday is an observed holiday in France. Pentecote is a religious celebration, both Christian and Jewish celebrate 50 days after Easter Sunday.
Independence Day: On July 14th French people celebrate Bastille day which, on July 14th 1789, became the symbol of the French revolution.
Assumption Day: On August 15th Assumption Day is an observed holiday in France. Many religious processions and celebrations are organized throughout the day.
All Saints Day: November 1st is the remembrance day to the deceased. Traditionally, the families meet in the cemeteries to clean up and flower the tombs on that day.
Armistice Day: On November 11th, 1918 the armistice of the First World War was signed. As a celebration of this event, a procession is organized each year to the Arc de Triomphe (Triumph Arch) where the remains of an unknown soldier have been buried.
Christmas: You know the date for sure! Friends and families meet on December 25th to exchange gifts and share gargantuan dinners.