Anniversaries Posted by Tim Hildreth on May 11, 2021 in History, Holidays, Language, Politics
For many French learners, the word anniversaire is perhaps most with associated with the expression Joyeux anniversaire but it can also refer to un anniversaire de mariage, or like in this past week, l’anniversaire d’une mort1the anniversary of a death, or l’anniversaire de la fin d’une guerre2the anniversary of the end of a war. So this week, let’s explore anniversaries.
200 years after the death of Napoléon
Le 5 mai3May 5th, President Emmanuel Macron s’est rendu à4went to (lit. delivered himself to) l’Hôtel des Invalides, site of Napoléon’s tomb, to commemorate the life of l’Empereur on the 200th anniversaire de sa mort5anniversary of his death, an event not without controversy.
While Napoléon brought many improvements to France and the French people including l’éducation nationale and le Code civil, he also put an end to France’s first Republic, reinstituted slavery, and ravaged much of Europe in his quest to build an empire. As a result, Macron – who as Bridgette reminded us in this great post on French politics is the youngest leader of France since Napoléon! – is (also) the first French president to mark the occasion.
As the Elysées6The Elysées Palace is the official residence of the French President. As here, the name can also refer to the administration of the President/the president’s office. said though « commémorer n’est pas célébrer »7commemorating is not celebrating and there is much we can learn from Napoléon’s history.
This video from FranceInfo highlights a variety of opinions about Napoleon from some of the countries outside of France where he left his mark. If you’d like to learn more, this site from the French National Ministry of Education has many great resources. Or if you’d like to see the day’s events, you can visit this site for a video, photos, and transcript of President Macron’s speech.
Before he brought it back, France was actually one of the first countries to abolish slavery. Like many countries at the time, French colonial trade relied on l’esclavage8slavery. In 1791 though, the leaders of the new Republic were among the first to officially abolish slavery. Following 1789’s Déclaration des droit de l’homme et du citoyen, they declared that “tout homme est libre en France, et que, quelle que soit sa couleur, il y jouit de tous les droits de citoyen“9every man is free in France, and, regardless of his color, he benefits from all the rights of citizenship. Just over 10 years later (in 1802) Napoleon would undue the abolish and bring slavery back to French colonies.
Le 8 mai
Saturday was one of the the many May holidays in France and President Macron participated in another commemoration. Over the weekend he made his way to the Arc de Triomphe10Another legacy of Napoléon’s to mark the 76th anniversary of the end of la Deuxième Guerre Mondiale. Like last year, the day’s traditional parades and celebrations were muted due to the on-going Covid-19 crisis, but you can learn more about the day and “follow” the events here.
Last year in a post about interesting oddities of French architecture I told you about Paris’s façades factices. I recently came across this fun little video from the travel vlog The Tim Traveller that highlights a number of these “bâtiments” across the city. If you enjoy this video, I encourage you to check out Tim’s YouTube channel. He’s British and his videos are in English, but he’s got lots of great quick visits to more interesting and odd places in Paris, around France, and more.
- 1the anniversary of a death
- 2the anniversary of the end of a war
- 3May 5th
- 4went to (lit. delivered himself to)
- 5anniversary of his death
- 6The Elysées Palace is the official residence of the French President. As here, the name can also refer to the administration of the President/the president’s office.
- 7commemorating is not celebrating
- 9every man is free in France, and, regardless of his color, he benefits from all the rights of citizenship
- 10Another legacy of Napoléon’s
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