Thursday is Bastille Day, an annual national holiday for the French and their friends to commemorate the 1789 storming of the Paris fortress that started the country's revolution. On July 14 of that year, French soldiers rushed toward the prison and stood up against the royals controlling the nation, kickstarting a movement and ushering in an era of liberty, equality and fraternity.
“If there was ever a shot heard ’round the world,' it was when Parisians brought down the Bastille," Stanford University historian Dan Edelstein told TIME recently.
These days, Bastille Day has taken on a new significance as Francophiles debate how to mesh historical ideologies with current events. France's 66 million-person population has diversified over the past few centuries, and its people's needs have changed.
"Bastille Day is a way to celebrate the past, to celebrate the famous triangle of core values, but everybody knows that we must give a new definition to these values today," L'Express journalist Christian Makarian told BBC News.
In any case, Bastille Day continues to inspire parties and parades in places like the United States, India, Belgium and Hungary, according to Mirage News.
In Sydney, Australia, for example, more than 2,000 people were expected to turn out in red, white and blue for a street festival Thursday. London and New York City held Bastille Day festivals this past Sunday, but they still have dozens of restaurants offering deals on French food Thursday. Paris, of course, held the largest celebration, with a 4,000-person parade attended by President Francois Hollande and American Secretary of State John Kerry.
Even Russian President Vladimir Putin got in on the action Thursday. "For many decades our countries have worked out a vast potential of mutually beneficial cooperation in different spheres," TASS reported he said in a statement addressed to Hollande.
As you're learning about the history of Bastille Day — which the French call "la fête nationale"— check out how residents around the world are observing it: