It's me Celine from Germany and today I want to talk about something that was already almost two weeks ago: it's is November 11th.
You ask what is special about November 11th? I can tell you: it is Remembrance Day. Still don't know what I'm talking about, then keep reading (it is something you should know about Canada when you come).
Remembrance Day is a national holiday. How the word itself actually says, it is a day to remember. To remember the soldiers who fought in war. Not only those who died also those who came back. You don't only remember their bravery or the fact that they fought. What I heard a lot on this they were that they fought for our freedom. Our freedom to live where we want, to travel, to meet each other, in general: to do what we want!!
But let me tell you what I and most of Canadians did on this day.
I got up around 8.45am to get ready for a special service at the church. I actually needed an alarm clock to get up because beside the fact that you make this exchange year to experience a new culture (and this is definitely a part of the culture!!), I really wanted to see what they do on this day and church is just a part of this.
The service was at 9:15am and you could tell it was/is a bigger day. More people than usually showed up in church. The first front row was filled with uniformed soldiers and almost everyone wore plastic poppies (poppy is a flower that …). People in school started to wear those poppies at the beginning of November. It was not a usually service. A choir sang at the beginning, different people talked about what Remembrance Day means or what it shouldn´t mean. We heard a poem, saw a short video and of course remembered the soldiers!! The service ended around 10am. I got told that it is usually longer and people go straight to the Cenotaph.
The Cenotaph in our town is a stature of a soldier and on the pedestal are the names of the soldiers engraved which came from this town. During the ceremony the engraved names were called and the family came up to lay the wreath. All the names on the pedestal were called. At 11:11am they stopped for a one minute silence. My host mother told me that there is also an one minute silence on all TV and radio channels.
The Wednesday before November 11, we already had a short ceremony in school. The whole school came together in the gym around 10am. It was held for one hour in which the school elementary choir sang, the song “A Pittance of Times” from Terry Kelly was played and again people who talk about the meaning of Remembrance Day. Also, certain people like the mayor of the town, the cadet layer, a representative of the government etc. came up and laid the wreath. Some of them also pinned their poppy onto the wreath. Every school in Canada will probably have a ceremony before Remembrance Day.
So maybe you wonder why I wanted to write about Remembrance Day and that’s a good question.
I don't know how to sum up what I think about Remembrance Day but in general: I was impressed. I don't know where to start or what actually impressed me but I think I will list it and start:
1. So many people came together
I didn’t thought that so many people will come together to remember. Not only at the church also at the Cenotaph. In general that Remembrance Day is a ‘such a big’ day with also a ceremony at the school. I mean in Germany we never have a ceremony for any holiday we have. That leads me two the seconds point.
2. I needed to think about if we have Remembrance Day in Germany too.
During the holiday I was ask if we have something like Remembrance Day in Germany too and I needed to think about it. I actually needed to look up if we have it in Germany too (just to let you know: Yes we have Remembrance Day in Germany too). Somehow I felt bad that I didn’t know about something like that. And I specially always had in my mind that Germany get blamed for both world wars.
3. I needed to think about my family's past
My grandmother experienced World War II and she told me stories about it. She told me how she fled, how her father was kept in a Russin prison and lost a leg in war. She lost her brother at the end of World War II.
That was, I think, the only time I thought about the people who lived during that time. Maybe also in history class but as soon as you went out of class you forgot about it (and somehow I felt bad.)
You didn’t had a connection. I want to mention one thing my host mother said:
“My mother made me go to ceremony and i didn’t liked it as kid, but know I’m older and I know the family of some engraved names.”
I hope you could follow my reasons why I wanted to right about Remembrance Day. I have the feeling you should at least herd about Remembrance Day and I think it's a "great" holiday. A holiday with a 'good' meaning.
Nevertheless, this blog turned out longer than I thought it would be, I hoped you enjoyed it.
Hope to see you next time