Feast Day of the French Community

French Community, Feast Day of the(La fête de la Communauté franaisede Belgique)

September 27
Each of the autonomous regions of Belgium observes its own feast day. Feast Day of the French Community (La fÉte de la CommunautÉ française de Belgique) is a celebration of linguistic heritage and national independence. Feast days in other regions of Belgium include Feast Day of the Flemish Community, Feast Day of the German-Speaking Community, Iris Fest, and Walloon Regional Day.
Three linguistic communities make up Belgium's population—the French, Flemish, and German. There are four million French speakers in Belgium, and most of them live in the federal region of Wallonia, located in the south. Feast Day of the French Community, which largely takes place in the Walloon cities of Namur, Liege, Huy, and Charleroi, is a public assertion of the linguistic and ethnic rights of French speakers. It also marks the historic date in 1830 when the Dutch army withdrew from Brussels to end the union with Holland and its king, William I. This event allowed Belgium to declare its sovereignty.
For the greater part of the 20th century, the holiday took place on the final Sunday of September. The Walloon Assembly, a group leading the burgeoning Walloon Movement, decided in 1975 to switch to the late September date to mark the days in 1830 when Belgians successfully resisted foreign domination. By focusing on this page in history, the leaders hoped to inspire a similar movement of preserving autonomy from Belgium's dominant group, the Flemish speakers of Flanders.
All schools and administrative buildings are closed for the feast day. Past celebrations have extended three days and have offered a program of plays, sports competitions, and free music concerts.
CONTACTS:
Belgium Embassy
3330 Garfield St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
202-333-6900; fax: 202-333-3079
www.diplobel.us