VE Day is a commemorative event that happens in Britain each year on the 8th of May. It is the day that World War II ended in Europe, and ‘VE’ stands for Victory in Europe. 2022 marks 77 years since the day was first celebrated, and it is a rather poignant occasion for many who acknowledge it.
The announcement of the end of the War in 1945 came as a relief to the people of Britain, with many going out into the streets to mingle and celebrate together. The monarch at the time, King George VI, his family (including the now Queen Elizabeth II), and the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, all appeared on the famous balcony at Buckingham Palace to wave to the people and take part in the joyful atmosphere.
All over the country, there were impromptu street parties that used long preserved food saved especially for the event and pooled rations to feed everyone. Crafty neighbors strung up flags and bunting to decorate the houses. There were also bonfires lit after dark to celebrate the end of the Blackout (a tactic used to confuse German bombers during the Blitz). Pubs and bars got in on the action by extending their opening hours to let punters drink alcohol well into the night.
The event was a chance for the entire country to relax and party, but also to mourn the losses of family members and friends and remember them. VE Day nowadays is much the same, with some of the country holding street parties exactly like in the 40s whereas others decide to visit War memorials such as the Cenotaph to pay their respects to the fallen. Some places also have ‘flypasts’ where planes such as the Red Arrows fly over towns with colorful displays in tribute to the day.
It will be interesting to see what the country does for the 100th anniversary in 2045, as there were commemorations across the UK for the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1 in 2018. Let us hope that we take the lessons learned during both Wars to prevent another like it from happening again.