The bank holidays for 2016 in France are those days that have put on the list by the country’s statute. However, it should be remembered that the French government has mandated that only Fête du Travail, which is also known as Labor Day, May 1 or May Day, is a off day where you get full pay. This only applies to those industries where it is possible to stop working.

The other days on the list are considered to be public holidays by law, but it doesn’t make it required for these days off to be given. However, there can be a collective agreement regarding having those days as days off when the employees and employers or even the union for the employees come to an agreement.

This is the complete list of France’s bank holidays in 2016 and a brief description of each of the holidays, including the origin, religious affiliations and much more.

  • New Years Day – The celebrations for New Year in France start with New Year’s Eve, which they call as  Reveillon (de Saint-Sylvestre) Feast that is named as such because of the Saint Sylvestre. The tradition on this day is to have a huge feast since the French believe that this will make sure that the year is full of prosperity. Also, when the clock chimes midnight, the people will gather in a group and raise a toast to the incoming year. People wish everyone else “bonheur, sante, amour, argent”, which translates into “good year, happiness, health, love and money”. Also, on this day there are plenty of great fireworks shows that are going on and the best one can be found at Paris Disneyland and fireworks are banned around the Eiffel Tower. People spend this day with their friends and family so that they can welcome the incoming New Year in splendor.
  • Easter Monday – This is a very important holiday in France since the country has a strong Catholic population and background. This day comes just after the Easter Sunday and it allows the citizens to be able to fully celebrate the holiday with their family and friends. Also, there are plenty of great traditions that people enjoy during this day, including rolling raw eggs down a hill and watching out for what eggs don’t crack. These eggs are labeled the victory eggs and are symbolic of the stones that had been rolled away from the tomb of Christ. On the outskirts of Paris and in the  Chateaux Vaux le Vicomte area there is a huge Easter egg hunt that hosts thousands of visitors.
  • Labor Day – This holiday is a mandatory one by the law of the country and this day everyone pays their respects to the lengthy struggles that the leaders of the Labour Unions had faced in order to establish the basic labor rights. These are represented by a triangle that is red in France and it includes working for 8 hours with plenty of time for rest and leisure. However, when King Charles was ruling it had been changed to a rose and in 1561 someone had given King Charles IX a lily of the valley for good luck. Since that time it has become a tradition during the parades or marches to carry bouquets of the Lily of the Valley and during this time this flower and the bouquets are exempt from tax.
  • V-E Day – This is the shortened version of Victory in Europe day and it is a public holiday that is celebrated on May 8th every year since 1945. The day before this the military surrender had been signed in Reims, France and on May 8th in Berlin, Germany. This surrender had meant that World War II was ended in Europe and this day is celebrated with plenty of parades. They also wear the colors of the French flag, white, blue and red.
  • Ascension Day – On this day it is believed by the Christians that Jesus Christ had ascended back to Heaven after being crucified and his subsequent resurrection. This is believed to be one of the most holiest holidays and is marked by special prayer services that are organized in many churches.
  • Mother’s Day – On this day, people are encouraged, especially younger children, to respect and honor their mother or those that they see as mother figures. Children create cards and notes that they give to their mother and they also purchase gifts. Also, since the French love to have good and plentiful amounts of food on holidays, this isn’t any different and they gift different cakes. They are typically made in the shapes of a bouquet of flowers and given to the mothers. This is another day that children will often take their mothers out for brunch with some great French dishes and a good French wine.
  • Whit Monday – This holiday is the Monday that follows Pentecost and it is simply 1 out of the 3 Baptismal seasons held during the year. This day is when the country has warm weather and this day is often associated with picnics with friends and family since it strengthens the familial bonds. There are also plenty of sporting events that are organized for this time, but the holiday had some troubles, especially in 2003 when some 15,000 elderly citizens had died because of a heat wave. This holiday had been canceled by the French government from 2005 and people are encouraged to donate their earnings for the day in order to improve the community care. However, after plenty of protesting, the holiday was reinstated again by the government in 2008.
  • Father’s Day – This holiday, which honors the fathers and father type figures, has been celebrated from the middle ages in numerous Catholic Christian countries. This was at first celebrated on March 19th and it was a fest that was in honor of Saint Joseph, who is thought to be Jesus Christ’s foster father. However, later due to numerous international traditions, the celebration of this holiday had been moved to the 3rd Sunday in June and it is tradition for children to give homemade gifts to their father or those they consider as father figures. The most common gifts are made out of cereal boxes or paper and they make items such as picture frames, bow ties, neck ties and much more. The older generations head to the gift shops in order to purchase a nice gift for their father and there is plenty of good food along with wine consumed on this day.
  • Bastille Day – This holiday is also called the French National Day and it commemorates the start of the French Revolution that started on July 14, 1789 and started with the Storming of the Bastille. This day also celebrates the Fête de la Fédération, which had help to uphold the French citizens in unity on July 14, 1790. On this day Paris sees numerous military parades and many communities plan parties and various dances to celebrate.
  • Assumption Day – This is a Christian holiday and it celebrates the day that the Virgin Mary, who was Jesus Christ’s mother, had ascended into Heaven. There are many community based events that are planned on this day along with prayer services. Since this holiday happens during the summer time many people take this chance to spend the time with family or friends or to plan a trip. Also, many people visit a cave found in Lourdes, which is where a young girl once saw Mother Mary and others claim that if you drink the water from the spring inside it can cure you of all illnesses.
  • All Saints Day – On this day all martyrs and Saints are celebrated, especially the ones who don’t have their own Feast that is dedicated to their names. It is also a common tradition for everyone to attend churches and the graves of the Saints and even family members. However, on this day Père Lachaise, which is a cemetery where numerous famous French people are buried, has a heavy footfall.
  • Armistice Day – This day is also called L’armistice de la Première Guerre Mondiale and is the day when the end of World War I is celebrated and remembered. On this day special tribute is paid to those who lost their lives while serving and fighting for their country. There are numerous churches that organize special memorial services and at 11am the entire country observes a silence of 1 minute as a mark of respect as well as a way to pray for those who died for the freedom that they enjoy. Also, on this day many military parades are held and it is custom for many people to don red poppies and place wreaths and flowers on the monuments and tombs.
  • Christmas Day – This holiday is also called Noël and it is celebrated in the country along with everyone else in the world to remember the birthday of Jesus Christ. During this holiday the French people spend time with their family members, donate to the needy, worship and enjoy plenty of food and fun. Everyone prepares in advance for this holiday and they decorate their homes and businesses with decorations, including Christmas trees. Many families also put up their Nativity scene and many of the popular figurines come out, including baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The children hang up stockings or even leave out some shoes while they expect gifts from Papa Noël or Santa Claus. France, like every other country in the world, starts the day by attending Midnight Mass that is held in many churches on December 24th. After all of the prayers are over, then there is plenty of feasting, which is called le Réveillon and occurs in many restaurants or home.

List of 2016 Bank Holidays in France

Day of the Week Date Holiday
Friday January 01 New Years Day
Monday March 28 Easter Monday
Sunday May 01 Labor Day
Thursday May 05 Ascension Day
Sunday May 08 V-E Day
Monday May 16 Whit Monday
Sunday May 29 Mother’s Day
Sunday June 19 Father’s Day
Thursday July 14 Bastille Day
Monday August 15 Assumption Day
Tuesday November 01 All Saints Day
Friday November 11 Armistice Day
Sunday December 25 Christmas Day