Five Other Remembrance Days Across the World

Those of us in the U.S. are celebrating Memorial Day today - a day to honor lost loved ones and soldiers (more on that in a minute). But our Memorial Day is just one of many Remembrance days across the world. Here are the traditions of a few of them (and a little explanation of ours).

U.S. Memorial Day

The U.S. Memorial Day was originally conceived to honor soldiers (Union soldiers, specifically) who had fallen in the Civil War, so you can see it has been a tradition for quite some time. It's hard to say exactly where it started, because more than two dozen cities claim they originated the day, but in 1966, Lyndon B. Johnson officially declared Waterloo, N.Y., the home of Memorial Day. Although some of us forget what a solemn occasion the day is, at least one group of people remember: the soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry spend the Thursday prior to the holiday placing small American flags at the graves of more than a quarter of a million gravestones in Arlington National Cemetery. They spend the rest of the weekend patrolling the grounds to make sure each and every flag remains upright and flying.

Anzac Day

Every year on the 25th of April, Australia and New Zealand honor their soldiers - the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) - who fought in the Gallipoli Campaign of WWI. Nearly 11,000 soldiers died during the eight-month campaign (and nearly 80,000 died in the war overall). The holiday was officially declared in 1920 and ever since, people have honored some obvious traditions - memorial services, marches and events honoring veterans - and some not-so obvious ones. For instance, some people play two-up, an Australian gambling game, because it was one of the ways soldiers amused themselves. And it's not uncommon to add a little rum to your coffee that day to honor the "gunfire breakfast" some soldiers used to warm their bellies before battle. Like the United States' Memorial Day, Anzac Day has now broadened to honor all loved ones who have passed away and not just the soldiers.

Vimy Ridge Day

This unofficial Canadian holiday has only been around since 2003, so compared to the others on the list, it's a newcomer. On the ninth of April, Canadians remember their lost soldiers from the Battle of Vimy Ridge from WWI. It was the first time all four divisions of the Canadian Corps had ever fought together, and although they were successful in taking the ridge from the German troops, they lost nearly 4,000 men in the process. Canadians honor the soldiers who gave their lives in this battle by lowering flags to half mast, holding ceremonies and leaving wreaths on graves and monuments. Unlike others on this list, this holiday has not expanded to include any deceased loved ones - it remains specifically dedicated to the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Incidentally, there is a monument at the actual site of the battle; it's one of only two Canadian National Monuments located outside of Canada (the other one is also in France).


The Dutch remember the members of the armed forces of the Kingdrom of the Netherlands on May 4 every year. The royal family attends a ceremony held at the national monument on Dam Square in Amsterdam and at 8 p.m., the entire country grinds to a halt for two minutes in respect to those who died in wars or peacekeeping missions. Public transportation doesn't run and television and radio stations don't broadcast anything. Up until 1961, Dodenherdenking was only meant to honor victims of WWII, but like most other countries with similar memorial days, it now includes everyone. Dutch people have another holiday the following day the fifth of May is Liberation Day in the Netherlands and celebrates the day the Canadian army (largely the Canadian army, anyway) freed the Netherlands from Nazi occupation during WWII. Strangely, Liberation Day used to be held only once every five years, but since 1990, it has been a yearly event. Photo via Canada at War.


The German memorial day was proposed in 1919 and was meant to remember those who died in WWI. Some thought it was appropriate and others didn't, largely due to the fact that there was a dispute over what laws the Reich could enact and what laws the states could enact. It created a lot of confusion (and probably some angry politicians), so it wasn't really regularly celebrated until about 1934, when the Nazis declared it an official holiday. Except they mangled the meaning all around and called it Heldengedenktag, the Day of Commemoration of Heroes. It's not a bad idea in theory, but the Nazis turned it into inappropriate (and scary) hero-worship. That version of Volkstrauertag ended in 1945, but in 1948, the country brought back the holiday with its original intent. To commemorate the occasion, two Sundays before Advent, various goverment officials from the Chancellor to the Bundespräsident give speeches and the song "Ich hatt' einen Kameraden" (I had a comrade) is played. Photo via Reservistenverband.

Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

slight correction on dodenherdenking;since 1990 bevrijdingsdag is a national day-off every 5 years,instead of every is (as it hes been)celebrated every year.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I'm from NZ and fiancee to a Veteran. Anzac day is to honour all veterans, particularly those who fell, it's most definitely not a day to remember everyone who has passed away. Otherwise, there's not a lot of point to a war memorial day!

Also, for those who are interested...every year Turkey is kind enough to host an Anzac memorial service at Gallipoli to honour the Turkish, Australian and NZ soldiers who fell. NZ and Australia gave more lives per capita than any other country in either world war.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)

I am sorry but it was not well known what the Nazis were doing, there were Reports about the Concentration Camps, but nobody was believing that millions of Human beings were systemically killed. Then you have to remember that the USA were supporting the war in Europe with ressources, but it was impossible to do it openly, because the Nazis had a big following in the USA and many Citizens of the United States believed that they should not get into another big war in Europe. It took Pearl Harbor to wake the sleeping Giant, and i am grateful that the USA got into the war, i would not want to goosestep around here in Germany.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"Five Other Remembrance Days Across the World"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More