July 14 is National Day (Bastille Day) in New Caledonia, a country with deep and strong French roots. This is not to be confused with New Caledonia Day, a different “national day” of sorts, that falls on 24 September each year.
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It was on 14 July 1789, that a Parisian mob stormed the royal prison house (Bastille) in Paris, freed the seven prisoners held there, and robbed the royal arms stockpile. This was the beginning of the French Revolution and the overthrow of the French monarchy.
Although the charging of the Bastille had little impact in and of itself, its real significance was that if proved the French king could not control his own military well enough to prevent such an event. And that led to a decline in morale on the monarchist side of the conflict, and helped pave the way to victory.
In New Caledonia’s capital city of Noumea, National Day is celebrated with a big military parade, dancing, singing, musical performances, and a fireworks display from the town hall’s roof. And there is also a release of some five thousand paper lanterns that is truly spectacular to behold.
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