When is Remembrance Day 2022? How Armistice Day is different to Remembrance Sunday and why we wear the poppy

When is Remembrance Day 2022? How Armistice Day is different to Remembrance Sunday and why we wear the poppy

Updated: 2 months, 28 days, 9 hours, 57 minutes, 34 seconds ago

Today is Remembrance Day – also known as Armistice Day – the anniversary of the signing of the agreement that marked the end of the First World War in 1918.

Armistice Day is marked by all nations of the Commonwealth, while many other countries recognise the anniversary as a day of memorial.

The first official celebrations on the date were held by King George V at Buckingham Palace in 1919, when he hosted Raymond Poincaré, who was president of France at the time.

Here’s everything you need to know about Remembrance Day, and how it’s different from Remembrance Sunday.

When is Remembrance Day?

Remembrance Day is always on 11 November, no matter what day that falls on.

This name now tends to be used more commonly than Armistice Day, as it is supposed to be a time to remember all those who have lost their lives at war, not just those in the First World War.

Traditionally, a two-minute silence is held at 11am, recognising the precise time that the hostilities ceased in 1918 – the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

The Royal British Legion says: “This year we’re asking the nation to pause, breathe and reflect on the service and sacrifices the Armed Forces make on our behalf.”

What was the First World War Armistice?

The Armistice was signed by representatives of the Allies and officials from Germany, declaring an end to the First World War with the cessation of hostilities on land, sea and air.

By the end of September 1918, the German high command had largely recognised that their military prospects had become hopeless.

They began to negotiate peace with the allies on Wednesday 5 October, by sending a message to the former US president Woodrow Wilson, who had proposed his “Fourteen Points” for peace at the start of 1918.

Despite a late change of heart by the influential General Erich Ludendorff, any appetite for battle had left the shattered German army after four years of gruelling conflict.

The Allies began discussing a truce on 5 November, although the European powers were generally opposed to President Wilson’s Fourteen Points, considering them idealistic.

An agreement was eventually agreed upon at 5am on 11 November, to come into effect at 11am Paris time.

Although it marked the end of all hostilities, the nations were officially involved in a state of war for seven more months, until the signing of the controversial Treaty of Versailles on 28 June, 1919.

When is Remembrance Sunday?

Remembrance Sunday always falls on the second weekend of November, which means this year’s memorial takes place on Sunday 13 November.

The Royal British Legion describes it as “a national opportunity to remember the service and sacrifice of all those that have defended our freedoms and protected our way of life”.

What are the main Remembrance Sunday events?

In London, a national memorial ceremony takes place at the Cenotaph on Whitehall on Remembrance Sunday every year.

Royal Marine buglers sound The Last Post and wreaths are laid by members of the Royal Family, political party leaders, significant military figures and civilians.

A short religious service, included a two-minute silence is followed by a march-past, including hundreds of military veterans.

The Royal British Legion also holds an annual Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall to honour those who served for Britain and the Commonwealth.

This year’s event is taking place on Saturday 12 November, with performances at 2pm and 7pm.

Outside the capital, most British cities hold events commemorating Remembrance Sunday, generally taking place at war memorials or public spaces and including parades, silent reflection and readings.

Why do we wear poppies to mark Remembrance Day?

The poppy has been a prominent symbol of remembrance for almost a century, with millions of commemorative flowers produced every year to pay tribute to the war dead.

Its origins lie in the opening lines of war poem In Flanders Fields by Canadian officer John McCrae, first published in December 1915: “In Flanders fields the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row”.

The flower was adopted as a symbol by the newly-formed Royal British Legion, a charity established to provide support for members and veterans of the British Armed Forces and their families.

The appeal has grown from manufacturing poppies in a room above a shop in Bermondsey, south London to a facility in Richmond where 50 ex-servicemen and women work all year round producing tens of millions of the symbolic flowers.

Outside the UK, poppies are predominantly worn in Commonwealth nations such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, and are also used to a lesser extent in the US.

When do you stop wearing a poppy?

There is no set date when you’re meant to stop wearing the symbol, so there’s no need to worry about getting something wrong.

According to the Royal British Legion, “there is no right or wrong way to wear a poppy – except to wear it with pride”.

The charity adds: “You can wear a Poppy all year round but traditionally people stop wearing a Poppy after Armistice Day on 11 November or Remembrance Sunday, whichever is later.”

Is there a ‘right’ side to wear the poppy?

Some people say a poppy should be worn on the left lapel, to keep it close to your heart – it is also the side that medals are worn by the Armed Forces.

Others argue that the symbol should be displayed on the left by men and the right by women, the traditional positions of a badge or brooch.

The positioning of the flower’s leaf has also prompted debate, with one theory dictating that it should be at 11 o’ clock, representing the Armistice being signed at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

However, the British Legion insists there is no right or wrong way.

Why has the poppy been controversial?

Some critics have claimed that the symbolism of the poppy has become politicised over times, and that it has been used to glorify conflict.

It was for these reasons that prominent RAF veteran and author Harry Leslie Smith said he was abstaining from wearing the symbol in 2014.

Jon Snow, the Channel 4 journalist, cited “poppy fascism” as a key factor in why he opted not to wear one on air, referring to the abuse public figures have faced for eschewing it.

He wrote in 2006: “There is a rather unpleasant breed of poppy fascism out there – ‘he damned well must wear a poppy!’ Well I do, in my private life, but I am not going to wear it or any other symbol on air.”

The poppy has proved a controversial issue in sport, with Republic of Ireland football international James McClean facing sustained abuse since moving to England for his refusal to wear shirts displaying the symbol.

He was born and raised in Derry, growing up on the same estate as six people killed by the British Army on Bloody Sunday in 1972.

McClean explained his decision in a match programme for former club West Bromwich Albion in 2015: “If the poppy was simply about World War One and Two victims alone, I’d wear it without a problem.

“I would wear it every day of the year if that was the thing but it doesn’t, it stands for all the conflicts that Britain has been involved in. Because of the history where I come from in Derry, I cannot wear something that represents that.”

In 2011, Prince William and former prime minister David Cameron condemned Fifa’s decision to refuse the England team permission to wear the poppy for a fixture against Spain.

Football’s global governing body concluded that allowing the symbol would contravene their regulations forbidding “political, religious or commercial messages”, although they eventually allowed the poppy to be shown on black armbands.

England have subsequently been fined alongside the Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland teams for displaying the poppy during fixtures.