What Is Victory In Europe Day And How Is It Celebrated In France?

What is victory in Europe day and how is it celebrated in France?

You may not have heard of Victory in Europe day, aka VE day or simply V day, but it’s an important day in history to Europeans and many other countries. Here’s a little background on what V-E Day Means to the world and how it’s celebrated, especially in France.

What Is Victory In Europe Day?

Victory in Europe day is a special day in Europe, especially to the French because on May 7th, 1945, in a little red schoolhouse in Reims France where the Headquarters of the Allied Force was located, Nazi General Alfred Jodl signed an unconditional surrender to the allied forces- to take effect the next day on May 8th, 1945.  Hitler had already committed suicide by this time.  

Germans surrendor in Reim France marking the end of world war two

When the news broke the next day, millions of soldiers and civilians around the world saw the 8th of May as the end of the war in Europe and declared it “Victory in Europe Day”, bringing millions of people into the streets to celebrate in victory.— the Soviet Union would mark Victory Day on May 9.

8th of may newspaper in France announcing victory in Europe and the surrender of the Nazi Germany

In London alone, over a million people gathered in Trafalgar Square all the way up to Buckingham Palace, where Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth and her father King George VI, appeared on the balcony of the palace to cheering crowds. In the United States, over 500 thousand people gathered in Time Square to celebrate and in France huge crowds went to Paris to celebrate.

The war, of course, continued in the Pacific for another 4 months until the surrender of  Imperial Japan was announced on August 15th and formally signed on Septembre 2, 1945, ending World War II for good.

Churchill waves to crawds on the day he broadcast that the war with Germany had been won on 8th of may 1945

Document signed by the germans to surrendor on May 7th 1945 in Reims France to take effect on the 8th of May

Officially the act was signed on the 7th of May 1945 in Reims, to take effect on the following day, May 8, 1945, at 11:01 p.m. Central European Time. 

How Is Victory In Europe Day Celebrated?

VE day is recognized by many former allies of the second world war, France and Russia have marked it as a public holiday.

You might be interested in reading about all the other french holidays that happen in May.

VE Day In France:

In France, Victory in Europe Day is a patriotic public holiday. Banks and most businesses are closed. Supermarkets are closed or close early. There is no school and the buses and trains run on a special holiday schedule.

Depending on which city you are in, you might see parades,  flags, wreaths and flowers to commemorate soldiers lost to the war and victims of the Holocaust.

In Paris, there is usually a special celebration along the Champs-Elysees attended by Veterans and the French President complete with a military parade and a wreath-laying ceremony at the tomb of the unknown soldiers which lies directly beneath the Arc de Triomphe.victory in Europe day in La Garde France small gathering at a war memorial near our house.

Victory Day In Russia:

In Russia, VE day is called Victory Day. President Vladimir Putin called it the country’s “biggest holiday.

VE Day In the UK and United States

The 8th of May is not a public holiday in the UK or in the United States.

VE Day Celebrations In Germany

Germans celebrate Victory in Europe day on the 8th of May but they call it “Liberation Day” to celebrate liberation from the Nazi government and Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.

 

Happy Victory in Europe day

About the Author

Annie André Is a half Thai, half French Canadian/American freelance writer, digital marketer and author of THE LIVE IN FRANCE GUIDE: an expat travel and lifestyle blog featuring destination guides, inspiration, travel tips, personal advice and anecdotes on working, living and playing in France. ( Equal parts weird, wacky and wonderful).

Harleena Singh

Hi Annie,

It surely must have been frustrating to keep going to her school and later finding out that it was a holiday. 🙂

Our country’s yearly holiday calender is well chalked out, but yes, we do have local holidays very often that we sometimes don’t come to know of and when we know of it, we’ve already got them ready and taken them to school. While kids enjoy the sudden holiday from the school, it surely does add up to my work schedule 🙂

Thanks for sharing this. Have a nice week ahead 🙂

    Annie André

    Hi Halreena,
    You are so right that the kids love all the additional holidays. We tend to celebrate both US holidays and French holidays which is kind of fun.

Tim Bonner

Hi Annie

It’s a shame but we don’t do anything for VE day here in the UK. It passed me by and I didn’t notice.

It’s not usually a bank holiday in the UK either. There’s a May Day bank holiday early in May and sometimes that coincides with VE Day but it’s not specifically to celebrate that.

Since I’m no longer working, I don’t even notice when there are bank holidays either.

    Annie André

    Interesting Tim. I wonder why it is that the French have made it a public holiday. Perhaps it might have something to do with the fact that the official signing of the surrender of the Germans happened in Reins France?
    In general, nothing really happened in our town other than flowers and flags lining the streets. Life went on as normal for us other than the fact that i could not buy any milk because the stores were closed. 🙂

Adrienne

Just think, you guys could have stayed home and even in bed a little longer had you known about the holiday. See Annie, that’s just one more thing I would not have thought about.

That wouldn’t be good if I showed up on a holiday and couldn’t catch any transportation or I’m wanting to hit the grocery store only to learn the majority of them or closed.

I do believe though that their holidays are definitely worth celebrating. Especially the end of the World War.

Thanks for giving us another little bit of history Annie.

~Adrienne

    Annie André

    LOL Adrienne, you are so right, i could and should have stayed in bed but it was a BEAUTIFUL DAY on that day.

    I am so paranoid about public holidays in France i mark them on our calendar because it means i have to stock up on food. EUropean fridges tend to be small. ours only holds about 3 days worth of food for our crew. So i have to plan accordingly. LOL.

Regina

Hi Annie
What a wonderful website you have created here! Such a joy to read about your family and life in France.

Being form Eastern Europe myself, Victory Day is a HUGH day for me. My grandfather was killed during WWII in Yugoslavia fighting with fascists there.

And, however, Victory day for our part of the world is on May 9 (because of time difference we became aware of the end of the war after midnight), it’s still our mutual European holiday. Usually we take our children to the monuments, bringing there flowers and watching concerts, trying to explain to our children what it is all about. (Not only a nuisance of closed shops and “just a sudden day off”) 🙂

    Annie André

    Regina,
    thank you for your kind words. This website is a labour of love…I try to make it feed my soul while helping others who dream about living abroad by giving them a glimpse into life in France.

    I did notice that certain european countries celebrate on the 9th and was not quite sure why but your explanation cleared it up for me.

    Too bad north Americans don’t celebrate this day. In the least it would make more children and young people aware of this important day..

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