Canada - Canadian Remembrance Day

Canadian Remembrance Day

This year: Sunday, November 11, 2018

Remembrance Day is a holiday celebrated in all the commonwealth countries of the world. In Canada it falls on November 11th of each year, when all the country stops its daily activities for one reason: on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, in the 11th month people get into silence for two minutes to honor the memory of thousands of men and women who sacrificed their lives during the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War, the Afghanistan conflict and during peacekeeping missions for a bright future of the nation. These two minutes represent a common tradition on Remembrance Day in Canada - in the beauty of thought's immobility everyone focuses on the remembering of greatest heroes.

Customary, this celebration is known as Armistice Day - the day of the First World War's end, but it was lately changed into Remembrance Day.

Remembrance Day is a holiday for federal government employees; in Western Canada and Atlantic Canada it is a general holiday for provincial governments, private business and schools. In Ontario and Quebec the situation is, though, different. Schools usually hold special assemblies during the first half of the day, or on the school day prior, with various presentations concerning the remembrance of the war victims.

Besides this, another Canadian tradition on Remembrance Day is the wearing of poppy flowers. The emblem of red poppies finds its roots in John McCrae's poem "In Flanders Field", where poppies would start growing at the spots of the First World War battle fields (Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, Canadian Medical Officer during the First World War).

Today the real poppies have been replaced by artificial ones and some people prefer to wear white poppies to symbolize peace. Whatever the color of the poppy flower is, the person wearing it is meant to put the poppy in the grave of a soldier on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. However, if there is no soldier's grave to put the flower on, the poppy must be destroyed.

Canadian people consider that it is necessary to remember all the past away, for the sacrifice of those thousands of lives not to be useless. Their great meaning is deeply rooted in the national collective consciousness, and the peaceful future of Canada is their memorial. This is the reason for which, once a year, Canadians visit solemn ceremonies and remembering celebrations. In fact, during one brief moment of their lives, they can think about the necessity of working every day in the name of peace.

The Great War Veterans' Association of Canada is today called the Royal Canadian Legion. Its mission consists in supervising that the poppies are distributed each year on Remembrance Day and that the country takes the time to remember its fallen soldiers. In Canada songs have been written in the honor of Remembrance Day with such titles as "In Flanders Field", or "The Field of Honor." These songs symbolize the hope during the period of human disappointment.

As a rule, wreaths of artificial poppies are laid at the base of the memorials. The main celebrations take place in Ottawa, when poppies are laid on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during the military Remembrance Day parade. Similar ceremonies take place in provincial capitals all across the country, as well as in other cities and towns.

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