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Everything You Need to Know About Remembrance Sunday

Everything You Need to Know About Remembrance Sunday

‘Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it’. These were the famous words from British national hero, Winston Churchill.

Many UK citizens and famous celebrities (row 203 famous people Manchester) proudly commemorate Remembrance Sunday as a way to honour the country’s history of fighting for peace and to pay tribute to their heroes.

As someone born and raised in Manchester, I’m proud of my heritage and celebrate the honorous holiday with prestige. But what exactly happens on Remembrance Sunday?

On Remembrance Sunday, people from politicians, businessmen, to regular civilians attend a ceremony to honour those who perished during the two world wars. This special day will also be nationally televised across the UK. 

You can find tons of things to learn about this occasion, so let’s go back to the past and explore what makes Remembrance Day important in Manchester. I will be discussing things to do and interesting facts about this day too, so read on!

Where is the Remembrance Service held in Manchester?

Where is the Remembrance Service held in Manchester's Hom
Prime Minister Boris Johnson- Remembrance” (CC BY 2.0) by UK Prime Minister

Remembrance Sunday is held at St. Peter’s Square annually. Manchester Cenotaph is the central grounds of the war memorial in England. 

Compared to other British cities, Manchester (row 96 – life in Manchester vs London) delayed its commissioning of the First World War memorial. In fact, the city did not consider holding a war memorial committee until the 1920s.

Despite raising money initially, Manchester struggled looking for a suitable place to convene a memorial. 

The first choice was for the memorial to be stationed at Albert Square, but this proved to be somewhat problematic due to the removal and relocation of some statues and monuments. 

Where is the Remembrance Service held in Manchester
Image credits: David Dixon

Manchester’s artistic bodies also criticised the idea of the memorial being held at the town hall. So, the committee considered Piccadilly Gardens, (row 113 – things to do piccadilly gardens) which is an area that’s already designed to have a library and an art memorial. 

Unfortunately, the central memorial needed to be expedited, so this ultimately led to St. Peter’s Square being the best choice. The city council then bought an area within the square, which included the cathedral church in 1906. 

The Remembrance Service held in Manchester
St Peter’s Church, Ancoats” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Robert Cutts

There’s a sealed burial crypt underneath the church which remains untouched to this very day. The memorial stone cross now marks the location of the ground above.

Also, the memorial is made up of a central cenotaph as well as the Stone of Remembrance which is placed between two large obelisks. This is deemed as one of the most beautiful structures in Manchester

While most would allude to the Whitehall in London as the main venue for national Remembrance Day, the Manchester Cenotaph is a unanimously close second. It is also one of seven memorials England is basing its national holiday on. 

What is the significance of Remembrance Day? 

Remembrance Day is significant because of the collective agreement to stop the war that led to the long-time peace we enjoy today. To commemorate those who risked and sacrificed their lives for our liberty, it’s celebrated every year as a sign of respect and honour.

Why is Remembrance Day celebrated?

Remembrance Day is celebrated to honour the thousands who died during the harsh world wars. Likewise, Manchester is filled with patriotic citizens who are proud of their country, history, and customs. 

Every year, Mancunians are some of the most dedicated people to pay homage to the fallen heroes during Remembrance Sunday. Their love for their country is ingrained deep in their veins and they find every second of the holiday to be an integral time of the year. 

What to Expect during Remembrance Sunday

What to Expect during Remembrance Sunday's Homepage

Remembrance Sunday is packed with a lot of activities to do for only a 24-hour event. During the actual holiday, there are a few things to expect so you can prepare to celebrate with other Mancunians. 

Veterans Paying Homage 

You’ll definitely come across war veterans if you happen to stop by the city square. This is an opportunity to meet our decorated servicemen who risked their lives protecting the very freedom we enjoy today. 

Veterans Paying Homage
Image credits: David Dixon

If you’re lucky enough to get close to several ex-soldiers and navy people, make sure to say hello and thank them for their service. Personally, I have come across dozens of veterans and they are very delightful people when you meet them. 

I’d refrain from asking too personal questions about their experiences because that might trigger unwanted emotions. But if they don’t mind, happily converse with them about the past so you can have insight about our nation’s interesting history. 

Don’t forget to take pictures with them as well, which will serve as an inspiring token of your visit!

Holiday Schedule: The Solemn March to St. Peter’s Square 

Holiday Schedule The Solemn March to St. Peter's Square
Prime Minister Boris Johnson- Remembrance” (CC BY 2.0) by UK Prime Minister

Remembrance Sunday will take place on the 11th day of the 11th month at 11 AM which marks the exact day World War I settled. Therefore, many members of the Manchester community will celebrate this occasion every November. 

The first tradition of this occasion is the procession which starts at 10:30 AM on John Dalton Street. From this street to the cenotaph in St. Peter’s Square, arrival time usually starts at 11:00 AM where everyone will be present across the city square. 

City Customs: Chime of the Manchester Bell

From Gaz Luczo

Right after the two-minute silence that will be conducted to pay respects to the fallen war combatants, the Manchester Bell will be rung at 12:30 PM.

What’s beautiful about this is other bells from different cities will also be joining which causes a symphonic and resounding chime that’ll be heard around the country. This is also part of the Manchester tradition that has been around for over 100 years. 

This custom is intended to emulate a solemn expression of relief that happened during the Armistice slowly spread across the country. 

The symbolism behind such a ceremony is for the bells of the UK to ring in unison after a year of silence— remembering the peace provided by those who were slain at war. 

5 Things to Do on Remembrance Sunday

Since Remembrance Sunday is a day to celebrate peace and honour the fallen, there are specific and courteous things that are expected from you. 

As someone who’s been celebrating it for many years, I’ve grown accustomed to some aspects about it that are heavily considered as tradition and custom. Here are a few that we usually do on Remembrance Sunday: 

1. Wear a poppy

Wear a poppys' Homepage
Image credits: Wallpaper Flare 

If you’ve never been to your first Remembrance Day celebration, you might be puzzled at the countless people wearing a red poppy flower on their chests. Likewise, you probably have to wear one to blend in.

But what is its purpose? This small pendant on our chests is to show everyone that we remember and give full support to the vanquished troops that fought bravely during the wars. 

Actually, this tradition dates all the way back to the first world war. Interestingly, most of the bloody battles occurred on a field of red poppies—which I personally think is poetic and beautifully grim. 

Like I’ve said, you probably need to have one since most of the people on the streets are sporting one. Luckily for you, a lot of people hand these out for free and you can also buy them at any convenience stores in Manchester. 

The Royal Family Wearing Poppies on Remembrance Day

Here are some ways the members of the royal family use poppies to commemorate the fallen heroes on this special day:

Here, you can see the late Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Catherine of Wales.

Here’s another post of Princess Catherine Middleton walking on a field of artificial red poppies as she pays homage. 

2. Visit memorial parks in Manchester 

Visiting different memorial parks in Manchester is a great way to maximise your time and experience during Remembrance Sunday. To name a few, here are three most notable ones:

Korean War Memorial Manchester

Korean War Memorial Manchester's Homepage
Image credit: David Dixon

The Korean War Memorial Park in Manchester is a resting place for soldiers and military personnel who fought during the Korean-British war in the 1950s. 

Korean War Memorial Manchester

Somme Memorial

Somme Memorial's Homepage
Image credit: David Dixon

The Somme Memorial park in Manchester honours those who were slain during the infamous battle of Somme in World War I. A wide curved wall is situated at the centre of the park that represents the Western Front trench stacked with sandbags. 

The park also served as training grounds for military recruits known as the Manchester Regiment. 

Somme Memorial

Glade of Light

Glade of Light's Homepage
Image credit: David Dixon

The Glade of Light is a memorial that tributes the victims who lost their lives and were injured during the terrorist attack at Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017.

Glade of Light

3. Write postcards and letters to war veterans 

Write postcards and letters to war veterans' Homepage
Image credit: Pxfuel

There’s a certain magic to receiving letters that can truly capture a person’s sincere sentiments.

Sending postcards or handwritten letters to veterans who lived through the world wars can evoke a deep sense of nostalgia and remind them of past times.

Writing a heartfelt letter to the people who fought for our country is a meaningful way to express your affectionate gratitude—and doing so on Remembrance Sunday can make the occasion all the more memorable.

4. Fold a peace crane

Fold a peace crane's Homepage

If you enjoy arts and crafts, you can create something meaningful to commemorate Remembrance Day. I personally love origami, and I find folding paper cranes to be a particularly poignant way of honouring those who sacrificed their lives for our country.

What’s known as a ‘peace crane’ is a symbol of hope that originated from Japan after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the second world war. 

In Japan, the act of folding paper cranes can be portrayed as a way to promote the idea of peace and honour to those who fell victims to the violence of war. 

It’s especially popular among younger people (Row 108- Why are Millennials moving to Manchester?) because origami is mostly seen as a youthful endeavour. 

5. Pause for a moment of silence 

Pause for a moment of silence's Homepage

As mentioned, part of the ceremony requires everyone at the square to pause for a moment of silence to honour those who perished during the wars. It only takes about two minutes of the entire day, but it’s also the most powerful action of the whole event. 

It’s tradition for any solemn occasion to take a brief moment of silence together. This is a way of reflecting on the sacrifices of those who fell during tragic wars and paying tribute to their memory. 

Interesting Facts about Remembrance Sunday

Interesting Facts about Remembrance Sunday's Homepage
Image credit: Pxfuel

After each Remembrance Sunday that I observe, I find that I have learned something valuable about the prestigious holiday. Come to think of it, there are still loads to learn about it which I can’t help but be excited about. 

I’m certain that you’ll find my insights regarding this significant day intriguing. To that end, I’ve compiled a brief list of fascinating facts about Remembrance Sunday. Let’s explore each one:

  • Remembrance Sunday was first celebrated in 1919, a year after World War 1 concluded. It was originally named ‘Armistice Day’ but changed to its more streamlined moniker after World War II. 
  • There’s more to the red poppy tradition than I originally explained. Interestingly, this practice was inspired by a poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae which speaks of a red poppy field where battles were waged. 
  • The idea of the two-minute silence was first introduced by an Australian writer and journalist, Edward Honey, in 1919. 
  • In the UK, Remembrance Sunday is actually not a publicly-recognised holiday. However, everyone participates in the silence anyway. 
  • In addition to the UK, Remembrance Sunday is also celebrated in other countries in the world like Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. 
  • Hong Kong was the first place to ever celebrate Remembrance Sunday outside of the UK. This occurred in 1946, and since then, has been observed by numerous places around the world. 
Interesting Facts about Remembrance Sunday
Salute the Armed Forces for Armed Forces” (CC BY-NC 2.0) by Royal Navy Media Archive

Remembrance Sunday serves as a poignant reminder to pause and reflect on the immense sacrifices made by those who have served our country in conflicts both past and present. 

Therefore, taking a moment to contemplate the profound significance of this day is absolutely essential.

Whether you choose to wear a red poppy, observe the two-minute silence, or attend a Remembrance Sunday service, this day is an opportunity for us to come together as a community and pay our respects to those who have served. 

Now that you have all these insights in mind, be sure to bring your friends and family(row 89 – unusual group activities) with you to Manchester in November where you can be with other Mancunians celebrating this delightful day!

FAQs about Remembrance Sunday in Manchester

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