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What is the difference between Remembrance Day, Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day?

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Published 05/11/2020
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There I was, reading up about Remembrance Day as research on a completely different blog, and I found myself getting confused about what I was reading; some pages were talking about Remembrance Day and some were talking about Remembrance Sunday. Are these not the same thing..? And what does Armistice Day have to do with it all? While figuring it all out for myself, I thought I might as well write it all down to help someone else who may be asking the same question.

What is Armistice Day and when do we observe it?

On the 11th November every year, the United Kingdom commemorates Armistice Day; the day on which an armistice was signed between Germany and the Allied Nations to bring to an end the hostilities of World War I in 1918. In the United Kingdom this is more commonly known as Remembrance Day, and at 11am on this day it is tradition to observe a two minute silence, with wreath-laying ceremonies happening at war memorials up and down the country.

What Remembrance Sunday means

Remembrance Sunday is always held in the UK on the second Sunday in November, the Sunday closest to Armistice Day, and it is seen as a day to commemorate and pay tribute to those who served in the two World Wars, as well as other later conflicts. Again at 11am on this day there is a two minute silence, and large ceremonies are held at war memorials and churches around the country.

Why do we have a two minute silence?

The two minute silence was originally introduced by King George V on the one year anniversary of Armistice Day. It was an idea that was witnessed first in South Africa by Sir Percy Fitzpatric, where they would hold a ‘Two Minute Silent Pause of Remembrance’ whenever the South African troops suffered heavy losses. The King released a statement to the press which read:

Tuesday next, 11 November, is the first anniversary of the armistice, which stayed the world-wide carnage of the four preceding years, and marked the victory of right and freedom.
I believe that my people in every part of the Empire fervently wish to perpetuate the memory of that great deliverance and of those who laid down their lives to achieve it.
To afford an opportunity for the universal expression of this feeling it is my desire and hope that at the hour when the Armistice came into force, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, there may be for the brief space of two minutes a complete suspension of all our normal activities.
During that time, except in the rare cases where this may be impracticable, all work, all sound, and all locomotion should cease, so that, in perfect stillness, the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead.
No elaborate organisation appears to be necessary.
At a given signal, which could easily be arranged to suit the circumstances of each locality, I believe that we shall all gladly interrupt our business and pleasure, whatever it may be, and unite in this simple service of silence and remembrance.


Hopefully this blog helped clear up any confusion, and if you want to know more about this subject then check out one of our other blogs below.

How can I mark Remembrance Day this year?
Why do people wear poppies for Remembrance Day?
What do 'Lest We Forget' and 'Roll of Honour' mean?
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A great explanation. Thank you.
Kathleen Howlett:
05-11-2020 18:10:53
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