Remembrance Day – November 11, 2020

Wed Nov 11
Remembrance Day, observed in Commonwealth nations on November 11, holds much the same meaning as America’s Veterans Day. Celebrated throughout the entire Commonwealth on November 11 since the end of WWI, Remembrance Day actually marks Armistice Day — the day on which the hostilities between the Allies and Germany ceased on the Western Front. (The Commonwealth includes 53 member states, nearly all of them former territories of the British Empire.)

When is Remembrance Day 2020?

Remembrance Day, also known as Poppy Day, due to the tradition of the remembrance poppy, is a day observed in Commonwealth member states. This year, it falls on Sunday November 8. Countries such as Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom observe the tradition of Remembrance Day on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

History of Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day, also known as Poppy Day, due to the tradition of the remembrance poppy, is a day observed in Commonwealth member states. The tradition goes back to the end of the First World War as a way to honor the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty.

At 11 am on 11 November 1918 the guns on the Western Front fell silent after more than four years of continuous warfare. The allied armies had driven the Germans back, having inflicted heavy defeats upon them over the preceding four months. In November the Germans called for an armistice, or suspension of fighting, in order to secure a peace settlement. They accepted allied terms that amounted to an unconditional surrender.

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month attained a special significance in the post-war years. The moment when hostilities ceased on the Western Front became universally associated with the remembrance of those who had died in the war. This first modern world conflict had brought about the mobilisation of over 70 million people and left between 9 and 13 million dead, perhaps as many as one-third of them with no known grave. The allied nations chose this day and time for the commemoration of their war dead.

On the first anniversary of the armistice in 1919 two minutes’ silence was instituted as part of the main commemorative ceremony at the new Cenotaph in London. The silence was proposed by Australian journalist Edward Honey, who was working in Fleet Street. At about the same time, a South African statesman made a similar proposal to the British Cabinet, which endorsed it.

King George V personally requested all the people of the British Empire to suspend normal activities for two minutes on the hour of the armistice “which stayed the worldwide carnage of the four preceding years and marked the victory of Right and Freedom”. The two minutes’ silence was popularly adopted and it became a central feature of commemorations on Armistice Day.

The tradition of Remembrance Day evolved out of Armistice Day. The initial Armistice Day began at Buckingham Palace, with the king hosting a banquet honoring the French president. Later, during World War II, many countries changed the name of the holiday. The U.S. chose Veterans Day.

Remembrance Day in Canada, known as Jour du Souvenir, remains a statutory holiday in six of the 10 provinces. The Armistice Day Act, which held throughout the 1920s, declared that Canada’s Thanksgiving would also be observed on Armistice Day — the Monday of the week in which November 11 fell. The government, in 1931, officially changed the date to November 11. The name also changed to Remembrance Day.

Canada has declared that the date is of “remembrance for the men and women who have served, and continue to serve our country during times of war, conflict and peace”; particularly the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, and all conflicts since then in which members of the Canadian Armed Forces have participated.

Remembrance Day timeline

1914
WWI begins

Great Britain declares war on Germany, bringing Canada into the war due to the country’s legal status as a British dominion.

1919
Remembrance Day first recognized

Armistice (now Remembrance) Day was first celebrated by King George V to honor those who fell during the First World War. 

November 11, 1931
A Day for Remembrance

Armistice Day officially became Remembrance Day.

1954
Veterans Day

The U.S. didn't get around to expanding the meaning of the holiday until 1954 when it changed the name to Veterans Day.

Remembrance Day By Numbers

54 – Commonwealth States such as Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia, observe the tradition of Remembrance Day on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month

118,000 – Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice during times of war and conflict

100,000 – American soldiers who perished during World War I

82% – The majority of Canadians still find the annual tribute important now

54% – Of Canadians feel today’s youth do “a good job” of honoring veterans

46% – Under half of Canadians think young people understand the sacrifices of those who have died in conflict

79% – Wearing a poppy remains the most popular way for Canadians to mark the event

91% – The vast majority believe Canada should do more to honour its veterans

60,000 – Australian soldiers killed during World War I

886,000 – British soldiers perished during World War I

Remembrance Day FAQs

Why do we celebrate Remembrance Day?

Remembrance Day honors soldiers who fought for their countries not only in World War I — but in all conflicts.

What happens on Remembrance Day in Australia?

Australia’s teachers deliver specially prepared lessons aimed at helping students understand the significance of the day — while developing skills to overcome adversity.

Does Germany observe Remembrance Day?

Germany doesn’t commemorate the signing of the armistice, although the country has another national day of mourning instead.  
 

How to Observe Remembrance Day

  1. Wear a red poppy on your lapel

    After WWI, the red poppy quickly came to symbolize the blood shed by soldiers on the Western Front. To honor those who died in both WWI and in other wars, pin a poppy to your shirt lapel. You'll be joining millions of Commonwealth residents all over the world in this silent but meaningful gesture.

  2. Participate in the nationwide two minutes of silence

    At 11am, join the rest of the country in observing two minute of silence to commemorate the time at which the Armistice was signed in 1918. During this time, Canadians stop everything to focus their thoughts on remembering all soldiers who died in the line of duty.

  3. Cite the poem “The Ode of Remembrance”

    Written by Laurence Binyon in 1914, the "Ode of Remembrance" is part of the poem "For the Fallen," which originally honored the British soldiers who died on the Western Front. It is now recited as a general commemoration of all soldiers who died in the line of duty.

Why Remembrance Day is Important

  1. It's an opportunity to reflect on Canada's past

    Remembrance Day is a time to reflect on the role Canada played in the conflict, as well as its historical relations with the rest of the Commonwealth.

  2. We get to wear poppies

    The bright red poppy is the symbol of Remembrance Day all over the world. Why the poppy? Poppies were a common sight on the Western Front  — amidst all the violence, these bright red flowers pushed through the soil, reminding soldiers that there is beauty and hope in the world.

  3. It's an excuse to spend time with family

    Since Remembrance Day is a statutory holiday, many Canadians have an extra day to catch up on quality time with family members. For those with relatives who died while serving in the military, Remembrance Day is an extra special time for remembering and honoring those loved ones.

Remembrance Day dates

YearDateDay
2020November 11Wednesday
2021November 11Thursday
2022November 11Friday
2023November 11Saturday
2024November 11Monday

Let’s get social

Here are some special hashtags for the day.

#RemembranceDay #NeverForget #November11 #VeteransDay #Poppy #WorldWar #WeWillRememberThem