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Armistice Day in Europe

On November 11, Belgium commemorates the Armistice. It is a public holiday and some services or businesses will not be accessible.

Every year on 11 November, Armistice Day is commemorated across Europe and the United States as it marks the effective end of the First World War – a day to remember the millions of lives lost to a years-long conflict.

The first Armistice Day celebration was held at Buckingham Palace, commencing with King George V hosting a "Banquet in Honour of the President of the French Republic" during the evening hours of 10 November 1919. The first official Armistice Day events were subsequently held in the grounds of Buckingham Palace on the morning of 11 November 1919, which included a two-minute silence as a mark of respect for those who died in the war and those left behind.

Similar ceremonies developed in other countries during the inter-war period. In South Africa, for example, the Memorable Order of Tin Hats had by the late 1920s developed a ceremony whereby the toast of "Fallen Comrades" was observed not only in silence but darkness, all except for the "Light of Remembrance", with the ceremony ending with the Order's anthem "Old Soldiers Never Die".

In Britain, beginning in 1939, the two-minute silence was moved to the Sunday nearest to 11 November in order not to interfere with wartime production should 11 November fall on a weekday. This became Remembrance Sunday.

Following the end of World War II, most member states of the Commonwealth of Nations followed the earlier example of Canada and adopted the name Remembrance Day. Other countries also changed the name of the holiday just prior to or after World War II, to honour veterans of that and subsequent conflicts. The United States chose All Veterans Day, later shortened to 'Veterans Day', to explicitly honour military veterans, including those participating in other conflicts.

On Armistice Day, commemoratory events are generally organised throughout Belgium and Europe, with Belgium's King Philippe taking part in a special military ceremony for the 100th commemoration of the Unknown Soldier, in honour of the deceased of the First and Second World Wars, as well as soldiers killed in humanitarian and peace missions since 1945.

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