Armistice Day Date: November 11
Armistice Day is a public holiday in France.
The French—like so many other people around the globe—were affected by the events of World War I. It wasn’t until November 11, 1918, at the hour of 11 A.M., that the war officially came to an end. All told, over 15 million people were killed in the brutal conflict, nearly 1.7 million of them French.
Due to the significance of the events of not only World War 1 but also other wars that take the lives of so many, France—among many other countries—celebrates Armistice Day.
History of France’s Armistice Day
At the end of September 1918, the military situation for the Germans didn’t look favorable at all. With the front line weakening and territory being lost, a number of changes went into effect in Germany to facilitate an armistice.
After numerous telegraphs and other communications, the armistice was made official in a railway carriage in Compiègne, France, in the early morning hours of November 11, 1918.
Armistice Day was made a public holiday by a law passed by the French government on October 24, 1922.
Augustin Trébuchon is considered to be the last French solider to die during the war. He was shot and killed at 10:45 A.M. while delivering a message near the Meuse River. The message, still in his hand when he died, is reported to have read “Rassemblement à 11h 30 pour le ravitaillement.”—”Muster at 11.30 for food.”
France’s Armistice Day Traditions, Customs and Activities
On November 11, 1920, the body of an unidentified soldier was buried in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, located under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Next to the tomb is an eternal flame that was lit three years later and still burns today.
Military parades are found around graveyards and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and flowers, wreathes, and French flags are placed on these spots to commemorate their dead.