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WWII Victory Day in France

Quick Facts

WWII Victory Day marks the anniversary of the official end of World War II and is a public holiday in France.

Local names

NameLanguage
Fête de la Victoire 1945French
WWII Victory DayEnglish
Tag des Sieges 1945German

WWII Victory Day 2014

Thursday, May 8, 2014

WWII Victory Day 2015

Friday, May 8, 2015
List of dates for other years

WWII Victory Day (la fête de la victoire, le jour de la libération) is a holiday to celebrate the end of World War II and the French people's freedom. It is the anniversary of when Charles de Gaulle announced the end of World War II in France on May 8, 1945.

European Union Flags

Flags of the European nations are displayed at some ceremonies on WWII Victory Day.

©iStockphoto.com/Dutchy

What do people do?

Schools, colleges and universities spend the period before May 8 focusing on the history of the Nazi oppression and World War II. Lessons related to this topic ensure that all generations know what happened during the war and why it is important to preserve everyone's rights in modern society.

Many people attend parades and church services on May 8 each year to celebrate the end of World War II and the freedom of France from Nazi oppression. They also sing patriotic songs and display the French national flag on their homes and public buildings. The mood on WWII Victory Day is generally joyous but people may also make time to remember family members or others who died during World War II. In the past, World War II veterans played an important role in the celebrations but many of them are now older and some are unable to perform a public role.

Public life

WWII Victory Day is a public holiday in France so post offices, banks, and many businesses are closed. Restaurants and cafes outside tourist areas may also be closed. However, bakeries and some stores in Paris, as well as at airports and railway stations and along major highways, are open.

Public transport service schedules vary depending on where one lives and intends to travel. Roads may be closed for parades. This is particularly likely in the center of towns, cities, and near war memorials.

Background

Charles de Gaulle, the leader of the Free French Forces, announced the official end of World War II to the French people on May 8, 1945. Church bells rang to communicate and celebrate this message. It marked the end of a six-year war and the Nazi oppression in France, which resulted in millions of deaths.

May 8 and 9, 1945, were joyous days but it took some time for WWII Victory Day to become established as a day of celebration and a public holiday. Between 1945 and 1953, the end of World War II was marked during the feast of St. Joan of Arc on May 16 and the Armistice Day observances on November 11. The following events occurred:

This day is marked on the island of Martinique, in the Caribbean, as the anniversary of the eruption of Mount Pelée on May 8, 1902. More than 30,000 people died from the eruption.

Symbols

The French national flag, or tricolor, is an important symbol of WWII Victory Day. It is one-and-a-half times as wide as it is tall and consists of three vertical bands colored blue, white and red. The bands are all the same width. The same colors are displayed in bunting and banners of many shapes on WWII Victory Day.

Flags of all European nations and the European flag are also displayed at some ceremonies. These emphasize the lasting peace and unity in Europe since the end of World War II.

WWII Victory Day Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday type
TueMay 81990WWII Victory DayNational holiday
WedMay 81991WWII Victory DayNational holiday
FriMay 81992WWII Victory DayNational holiday
SatMay 81993WWII Victory DayNational holiday
SunMay 81994WWII Victory DayNational holiday
MonMay 81995WWII Victory DayNational holiday
WedMay 81996WWII Victory DayNational holiday
ThuMay 81997WWII Victory DayNational holiday
FriMay 81998WWII Victory DayNational holiday
SatMay 81999WWII Victory DayNational holiday
MonMay 82000WWII Victory DayNational holiday
TueMay 82001WWII Victory DayNational holiday
WedMay 82002WWII Victory DayNational holiday
ThuMay 82003WWII Victory DayNational holiday
SatMay 82004WWII Victory DayNational holiday
SunMay 82005WWII Victory DayNational holiday
MonMay 82006WWII Victory DayNational holiday
TueMay 82007WWII Victory DayNational holiday
ThuMay 82008WWII Victory DayNational holiday
FriMay 82009WWII Victory DayNational holiday
SatMay 82010WWII Victory DayNational holiday
SunMay 82011WWII Victory DayNational holiday
TueMay 82012WWII Victory DayNational holiday
WedMay 82013WWII Victory DayNational holiday
ThuMay 82014WWII Victory DayNational holiday
FriMay 82015WWII Victory DayNational holiday
SunMay 82016WWII Victory DayNational holiday
MonMay 82017WWII Victory DayNational holiday
TueMay 82018WWII Victory DayNational holiday
WedMay 82019WWII Victory DayNational holiday
FriMay 82020WWII Victory DayNational holiday

Other holidays in May 2014 in France

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