Day Of The French Community is on September 27 and we are gearing up to celebrate its fascinating history! When one hears the word ‘French,’ you automatically think of France but did you know this day is actually celebrated in Belgium? This holiday has been observed for over four decades now and it was specifically chosen by the French Community owing to an important event that took place on this day in 1830.
History of Day of the French Community
The Day of the French Community holiday was first celebrated in 1975. This day commemorates a significant event during the Belgian Revolution in which the royal army was unsuccessful in recapturing Brussels from the Walloon revolutionaries.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Belgians were unhappy under the rule of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. On August 25 of the year 1830, a riot broke out after, amongst other things, a performance of Daniel Auber’s patriotic opera “La muette de Portici.” This led to an uprising in which crowds rushed to the streets and took control of government buildings while shouting patriotic slogans.
Back then, the Estates-General convinced Crown Prince William, who represented the monarchy in Brussels, that the administrative separation of north and south was the only solution to alleviate the crisis. However, the crown prince’s father, King William I, rejected the proposed terms of accommodation. Later, the royal army could not retake Brussels and a provisional government was declared in Brussels after which the Dutch troops retreated.
When we talk about the French Community of Belgium, it refers to the French-speaking populace that resides in the Walloon Region. They constitute about 41% of the country’s population and about 80% of the Francophone Belgians reside in Wallonia. In fact, this community, also known as the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, has its own parliament, government, administration, and flag.
In June 1975, the French Community chose the date of September 27 as French Community Day. On Day of the French Community, all schools are closed, however, some businesses remain open. People celebrate the holiday with concerts, theatrical performances, and sporting events.
Day of the French Community timeline
After a performance, a crowd breaks out into a riot and captures government buildings while shouting patriotic slogans.
The royal army under Prince Frederik fails to retake Brussels in a street fight.
A provisional government is declared in Brussels, after which Dutch troops retreat.
Belgium chooses the date in honor of the victory and celebrates Day of the French Community for the first time.
Day of the French Community FAQs
What are French-speaking Belgians called?
“Walloons are a French-speaking people who live in Belgium, principally in Wallonia. Walloons are a distinctive community within Belgium, important historical and anthropological criteria (religion, language, traditions, folklore) bind Walloons to the French people.” [Wikipedia]
What is the percentage of the French Community in Belgium?
“The French Community of Belgium makes up about 45% of the total population of Belgium; 55% of the population belongs to the Flemish Community, and 1% to the German-speaking Community.” [Wikipedia]
Where is French spoken?
According to Nations Online, “French is the official language in Belgium, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, The Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, France, Guinea, Haiti, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Monaco, Niger, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Switzerland, Togo, and Vanuatu.”
How To Celebrate Day of the French Community
Watch a play
Find a nearby theatre that is hosting a play and go watch it with your friends and family. If there are no plays taking place, search online for recorded plays and watch them at home with your folks and some popcorn!
Host a potluck at home
Host a potluck party at home and encourage your friends and family to bring over traditional Belgium delicacies. Throw in some karaoke, or play cards or board games, and simply have a good time.
Take a French class
Why not sign up for a French class? Look for short workshops or classes nearby or online that can help you learn the basics of French.
5 Interesting Facts About Belgium
Belgium does not have its own Belgian language — people speak Dutch, French, and German in different regions of the country.
Two different names for cities
Since multiple languages are spoken in Belgium, many cities have more than one name depending on the region.
Belgium is a kingdom
There still exists a monarchy in Belgium and they have a king and queen.
It is a federal state
Belgium does have a central government, however, the three separate regions of the country fall under the umbrella of a federal government.
Belgium is the only country in the world that has seven different parliaments.
Why Day of the French Community is Important
It commemorates an important event in history
Day of the French Community was a specially chosen date to commemorate the day when the royal army was unable to reclaim Brussels.
It acknowledges Belgium’s diversity
Belgium has three different regions, all speaking different languages, and this day acknowledges the French Community, their heritage, and culture.
It celebrates Belgium’s sovereignty
This day is important for the Belgium French community as it celebrates the resistance to foreign forces, the preservation of autonomy, and the upholding of its sovereignty.
Day of the French Community dates