Armistice Day: Observance Of The End Of World War I In Fra

The Armistice Day is one of thirteen holidays observed in France. It is celebrated every year on November 11. The term “armistice”, which is synonymous to the word “truce”, means “the temporary suspension of hostilities by agreement between the opposing forces. So what exactly is France observing during the Armistice Day?

On November 11, 1918, at 11:00 a.m., the two opposing forces of World War I – the Allies and Germany – signed a truce for the ceasing of all military actions in the Western Front, which stretched from Belgium to the northeastern portion of France. The Allies were composed of military forces from France, the United States, Belgium, Brazil, Italy, Portugal, the then Russian Empire, and the United Kingdom (as well as the British Empire then consisted of Australia, Canada, India, Newfoundland, New Zealand, and South Africa). Germany had Austria/Hungary and the then Ottoman Empire fighting on its side.

The momentous event, famous for its triple 11 mark (for the hour, day, and month the armistice was signed), signaled the end of World War I, which started on July 28, 1914 with the German invasion of three European countries including France.

It is fitting that France observes this event every year not only because of its involvement in the war, but also because the armistice was signed at the city of Compiegne in that country. Likewise, the signing of the armistice was considered the last major victory of France in military and political conflicts.

During this day, many villages in France hold commemorative ceremonies in honor of those who perished in the war. Visiting the graves of fallen soldiers is a tradition on this day. An interesting feature of the celebration is the decorating of the graves with flowers from the poppy plant (others simply wear the flower). This tradition is said to have been inspired by a line from a poem written in honor of the soldiers killed in the war.

For the war veterans, parades and such other activities appropriate for the occasion are held in their honor during this day.

In other countries (those that were parts of the Allies), the Armistice Day is called by other names. In the United States, for example, the day is referred to as “Veterans Day”, while in others it’s called “Remembrance Day”. Still others refer to the day as “Poppy Day”, in obvious reference to the memorial tradition as explained above.

While many countries, like France, observe Armistice Day on November 11 every year, other countries celebrate the event on different dates: New Zealand (the Friday before April 25, which is the Anzac Day); South Africa (the Saturday nearest to November 11); United Kingdom (second Sunday of November); and Italy (first Sunday of November). Countries that do observe Armistice Day on November 11 but not as a public holiday include Australia, Barbados, and the Republic of Ireland.

In France, as in other countries that observe Armistice Day, people pause for two minutes at 11 o’clock in the morning of November 11 (or of the date it is scheduled, as earlier mentioned) in honor of the millions of people – soldiers and civilians alike – who were killed in World War I, the “War (that was supposed) to End All Wars”.

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