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British Life & Culture

Calendar of Special Events & Celebrations

by Mandy Barrow

 
 
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Remembrance Day in Britain
 

Why a poppy? | Remembrance Poems | Poppy Song

Remembrance Wreath | The Last Post | Two minute Silence

November is the time of the year when we wear a red poppy in memory of those who sacrificed their lives for us during wars.

Click here to go to the British legion website
www.britishlegion.org.uk

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month marks the signing of the Armistice, on 11th November 1918, to signal the end of World War One.

At 11 am on 11 November 1918 the guns of the Western Front fell silent after more than four years continuous warfare.

poppy iconWhat is Remembrance Day?

Remembrance Day is on 11 November. It is a special day set aside to remember all those men and women who were killed during the two World Wars and other conflicts. At one time the day was known as Armistice Day and was renamed Remembrance Day after the Second World War.

Remembrance Sunday is held on the second Sunday in November, which is usually the Sunday nearest to 11 November. Special services are held at war memorials and churches all over Britain.

Sevenoaks
A war memorial in Sevenoaks Kent

A national ceremony takes place at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London. The Queen lays the first wreath at the Cenotaph.

Cenotaph
Cenotaph, London

Wreaths are layed beside war memorials by companies, clubs and societies. People also leave small wooden crosses by the memorials in remembrance of a family member who died in war.

Wooden crosses of remembrance

Why is the poppy a symbol of remembrance?

poppy iconThe 'Last Post'

The "Last Post" is traditionally played to introduce the two minute silence in Remembrance Day ceremonies. It is usually ' played on a bugle. (In military life, 'The Last Post' marks the end of the day and the final farewell.)
Listen to the last post

The sounding of "Reveille" (or, more commonly, "The Rouse"), ends the two minute silence, followed by the recitation of the "Ode of Remembrance."

poppy icon"They Shall not grow old" ("Ode of Remembrance." )

A poem called 'For the Fallen' is often read aloud during the ceremony; the most famous stanza of which reads:

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."

Fourth stanza of 'For the Fallen' by Laurence Binyon (1869 - 1943)

You can read the whole poem here

Chelsea Pensionerpoppy iconPoppy Day

Remembrance Day is also known as Poppy Day, because it is traditional to wear an artificial poppy. They are sold by the Royal British Legion, a charity dedicated to helping war veterans.

Photograph of a Chelsea Pensioner (British ex-servicemen) selling poppies in London.

poppy iconTwo minute silence

At 11am on each Remembrance Sunday a two minute silence is observed at war memorials and other public spaces across the UK.

The First Two Minute Silence in London (11th November 1919) as reported in the Manchester Guardian, 12th November 1919.

'The first stroke of eleven produced a magical effect.

The tram cars glided into stillness, motors ceased to cough and fume, and stopped dead, and the mighty-limbed dray horses hunched back upon their loads and stopped also, seeming to do it of their own volition.

Someone took off his hat, and with a nervous hesitancy the rest of the men bowed their heads also. Here and there an old soldier could be detected slipping unconsciously into the posture of 'attention'. An elderly woman, not far away, wiped her eyes, and the man beside her looked white and stern. Everyone stood very still ... The hush deepened. It had spread over the whole city and become so pronounced as to impress one with a sense of audibility. It was a silence which was almost pain ... And the spirit of memory brooded over it all.'

Click here for information on World War 2

poppy icon A Remembrance Song

Song: Poppy Petals - "Old soldiers never die, They simply fade they say...... "

We will remember all .....

Sadly, due to the current intensive operations, the names of many young men and women are now being added to war memorials throughout the land.

We give thought also to the many who are injured but, due to the miracles of modern medicine, are increasingly surviving with horrific injuries.

So, on Remembrance Day, we remember these people as well as those from the two great wars.

poppy iconAnzac Day in Australia and New Zealand

ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. It is commemorated in both countries. It is their day for remembering all those people who fought and died in many wars for freedom of all people and to stop injustice.

In New Zealand it is celebrated with dawn services at the cenotaphs and at NZ Embassies around the world. The poppy is used as a symbol of remembrance.

Anzac Day is a public holiday in Australia.

Linda, from Brisbane, emailed to tell us about the day:

"We have parades here, just like you will see parades in November for Remembrance Day, but here the children and grandchildren and even great grandchildren will march alongside the veterans, wearing the medals of the grand/parents. The parades are usually held very early in the morning, just as the day dawns. Special Anzac services will be held in schools the day before."

 Why a poppy?

Poppy Song

Remembrance Poems

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Events and special days in the UK
British Life
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© Copyright Mandy Barrow 2013

Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consulatant.
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.

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