How VE Day is being celebrated differently this year

The UK government is encouraging people to decorate their houses to mark VE day.
CNN  — 

Friday marks 75 years since the end of World War II in Europe. A date that would traditionally have been commemorated with pomp and pageantry, May 8 this year will be celebrated very differently.

The coronavirus pandemic has meant that millions around the world are staying at home, so people have to find new ways of marking Victory in Europe (VE) Day.

Why is this year so important?

As the name suggests, VE Day only marks the end of the conflict in Europe, when Nazi Germany surrendered after almost six years of war.

However, the war against Japan rumbled on until August that year, and is marked by celebrations on August 15 for Victory over Japan (VJ) Day.

VE Day marks the end of a war in which tens of millions of lives were lost and the course of world history changed forever.

However, this year’s celebrations take on a special significance, marking the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

Workers preparing commemorate figures for VE Day are wearing protective equipment against coronavirus.

How has Covid-19 affected celebrations?

While members of the public thronged the streets to celebrate in 1945, social distancing measures mean that public gatherings such as veterans parades and street parties have been canceled this year.

Hans Kluge, regional director for Europe at the World Health Organization (WHO), agreed with the measures.

“There is a very important day coming for us, VE Day, and I would like to commend those governments who have made the brave decision to postpone parades, to put health at the center,” he said at a briefing Thursday, the UK’s PA Media news agency reported.

“We have great respect for that date… but we need not to jeopardize human lives.”

However, there are other ways to mark the occasion while adhering to social distancing measures.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson lit a candle in Westminster Abbey on Thursday night in remembrance of those who died during the war.

The UK government has launched a website where people can find resources to mark VE Day, including how to make bunting and posters at home.

Meanwhile, cultural organization English Heritage has put together a special pack, which includes 1940s recipes, a Spotify playlist and dance steps that were popular at the time.

UK authorities are also encouraging people to use the online materials offered by the Imperial War Museums, The National Archives and the National Army Museum to find out more about the war and its history.

How are people marking the day this year?

In the UK, the government decided to move the traditional May Day bank holiday from the first Monday of the month to May 8 in honor of VE Day. This is only the second time in history the holiday has been moved – the first was in 1995, to mark the 50th anniversary.

There are a number of events programmed throughout the day, including a two-minute silence scheduled for 11 a.m. BST (6 a.m. ET).

The BBC will offer extensive VE Day programming, including a broadcast of wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s speech declaring victory in Europe at 2.45 p.m. BST (9.45 a.m. ET).

Britons are encouraged to raise a toast on their doorsteps at 3 p.m. BST (10 a.m. ET), and an address from the Queen will be broadcast at 9 p.m. BST (4 p.m. ET).

Other events include a performance from singer Katherine Jenkins who will sing wartime favorites behind closed doors at the Royal Albert Hall in London, which will be streamed online at 6 p.m. BST (1 p.m. ET).