Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day is a memorial day observed in the Commonwealth of Nations — a political association of 54 member states. This holiday has been observed since the end of WWI and is a day on which people are encouraged to remember all those soldiers and sailors who have died in the line of duty.

In most countries where this holiday is observed, it is observed on November 11th in remembrance of when World War I ended on November 11, 1918. This holiday has grown out of Armistice Day and is sometimes called Poppy Day in some countries.

The History of Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day is a memorial day that can be traced back to Armistice Day, so it is only fitting that we should begin the exploration of this holiday by going back to the original memorial day. Armistice Day marked the armistice that was signed between the Allies and Germany during WWI.

This armistice was signed at Compiegne, France at 5:45 am to take effect on the 11th hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. This original armistice was to end approximately 36 days later but was extended several times. However, a formal peace agreement was not reached until the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919.

In France, Armistice Day is a national holiday, and it was originally declared a holiday in many of the Allied nations of WWI. However, most of these countries have changed the name from Armistice Day. Members of the Commonwealth have adopted the name Remembrance Day for this holiday, and the U.S. has adopted Veterans Day.

Armistice Day was originally observed at Buckingham Palace. King George V hosted a banquet in honor of the President of the French Republic during the evening of November 10, 1919. The following morning, the first official Armistice Day was held on the grounds of Buckingham Palace.

Remembrance Day retained the name Armistice Day until World War II; this is when many countries of the Commonwealth chose Remembrance Day, and the U.S. chose Veterans Day.

Remembrance Day Observances Around the World

Since Remembrance Day is not a holiday that can be claimed by one country but is a memorial day observed all over the world, the ways in which it is observed are as varied as the countries observing it.

Although it is impossible to list all of the observances of this holiday, we would like to cover some of the ways it is observed around the world. This is what we are going to attempt to do in this section of the holiday.

Observance in the Commonwealth

The common tradition in Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa includes a one to two-minute silence observed at the eleventh hour of November 11, which is 11 am. That marks the time in the UK that the armistice officially became effective in 1918.

In many countries, the two-minute period of silence is preceded by the sounding of the Last Post — a bugle call primarily used by Australian and British infantry regiments.

After the period of silence, there is usually a sound of the military bugle called “The Rouse” or “Reveille.” The services are then concluded with a recitation of the “Ode of Remembrance.” During the service, a variety of songs are often played, and these songs can include “Jerusalem,” “Flowers of the Forest,” “I Vow To Thee, My Country,” and “O Valiant Hearts.”

Most services also include the laying of wreaths, various blessings, and national anthems. Regardless of the day of the week, Remembrance Day is always observed on November 11th in Australia.

This day is not a public holiday, so most businesses remain open on this day. Institutions all over the country observe the 2 minutes of silence at 11 am, and children may read the “Pledge of Remembrance” by Rupert McCall.

In the past few years, Remembrance Day services have declined and have been eclipsed by ANZAC Day — a day that falls on April 25th, is a public holiday in all states, and is a national day of remembrance for Australia.

Observances in Canada

Remembrance Day, also known as Jour du Souvenir in French, is a statutory holiday in six of the ten provinces of Canada and in all three territories. Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec do not treat Remembrance Day as an official holiday, and Nova Scotia recognizes it under the provincial Remembrance Day Act.

Official national ceremonies occur at the National War Memorial in Ottawa and are presided over by the Governor-General of Canada. The Canadian Prime Minister is also in attendance, along with public observers, dignitaries, and the Silver Cross Mother.

The Silver Cross Mother is chosen every year by the Royal Canadian Legion and is tasked with laying the wreath for the Remembrance Day ceremony on behalf of all mothers who have lost children in the service of their country.

Observances in India

In India, Remembrance Day is observed with memorial services in churches such as St. John’s Church and St. Mark’s Cathedral. Ceremonies and tributes are also observed in army cantonments. This day is also observed at cemeteries all over India.

Observances in New Zealand

New Zealand’s “remembrance day” is actually ANZAC Day — which is observed on April 25th. The Friday before this holiday, Poppy Day is usually observed. The holiday is celebrated in this way because of an event that occurred in 1921.

In that year, the paper poppies destined for Armistice celebrations did not arrive in time for the November 11 celebration, so they were distributed on April 25, 1922, instead.

Observances in South Africa

Remembrance Day is not a public holiday in South Africa. Commemoration ceremonies are usually held on the nearest Sunday. These ceremonies typically begin with the playing of the “Last Post” by a bugler, followed by the obligatory 2 minutes of silence.

Observances in Belgium & France

In both Belgium and France, Remembrance Day is a national holiday. This holiday commemorates the signing of the armistice between the Allies and Germany. Armistice Day is one of the most important French military celebrations since it was a French victory. On this day, nearly every French village has a memorial dedicated to those who have fallen during WWI.

Observances in Germany

The anniversary of the Armistice is not observed in any way in Germany. Their national day of mourning and remembrance is the public holiday of Volkstrauertag, observed since 1952. The observation is held two Sundays before the first Sunday of Advent.

Observances in Hong Kong

Remembrance Day has not been a holiday in Hong Kong since 1997, but Remembrance Sunday is still observed. This day is observed by multi-faith memorial services at the Cenotaph in the central business district of Hong Kong.

There are also services held at various churches all over Hong Kong, including services offered by the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, the Buddhist community, the Taoist community, and the Muslim and Sikh communities.

Observances in Ireland

Neither Armistice Day nor Remembrance Day is a public holiday in Ireland. The National Day of Commemoration in Ireland is observed in July on the Sunday closest to July 11th. However, even though Remembrance Day is not an official public holiday, it is observed by various ceremonies across the country. One of the biggest ceremonies is held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.

Observances in Israel

In Israel, two different ceremonies are held. The first one is at the British War Cemetery in Jerusalem on the Saturday before Remembrance Sunday. The other ceremony is on Remembrance Sunday in Ramleh.

Observances in Italy

Soldiers are remembered in Italy on November 4th, the day after the Armistice of Villa Giusti was signed on November 3, 1918. This day is known as Giorno dell’Unità Nazionale e Giornata delle Forze Armate or Day of National Unity and Day of the Armed Forces in English.

Observances in the Netherlands

A remembrance day is held in the Netherlands, but it is not on November 11th. This country’s holiday for remembering the fallen is called Remembrance of the Dead and is observed annually on May 4th. It is not a public holiday, but it is observed with various ceremonies. One of the main ceremonies in the Netherlands is at Waalsdorpervlakte near The Hague and Dam Square in Amsterdam.

Observances in Poland

November 11th is celebrated in Poland as Independence Day. The end of WWI allowed the Polish people to reunite their country after over 120 years of partition and gain their freedom. Ceremonies are held all over Poland, and some of the major ceremonies observed on this day include laying flowers on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Other ceremonies may include church services, school celebrations, and local memorials.

Observances in the United States

In the U.S., November 11th is not observed as Remembrance Day but is instead observed as Veterans Day. This day is not only a state holiday in many U.S. states but is also a federal holiday. Before 1954, this holiday was known as Armistice Day, as it was in other parts of the world, but the name was changed to Veterans Day at the end of the Korean War to honor all veterans.

Where is it celebrated?
Canada (Observance) - All except MB, NS, ON, QC, MB, NS, ONCayman Islands (Public holiday)Turks and Caicos Islands (Observance) Show all
When is it?
This year (2024)
Next year (2025)
Last year (2023)