Liberation Day 2017 and 2018
Liberation Day is a national holiday celebrated in the Czech Republic on 8 May each year.
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This is the same date as the celebration known as V-E Day, VE Day or Victory in Europe Day that is celebrated across much of Europe.
As the ‘Victory in Europe’ name suggests, the day signifies the victory of the Allied forces against the Axis forces at the end of World War II in 1945. In particular, the Czech Republic celebrates Liberation Day as the day they were freed from Nazi rule. In the Czech Republic, the day was originally celebrated on 9 May, but this was changed in 1989 to 8 May. Some people call the holiday Liberation from Fascism Day.
Czechoslovakia was an amalgamation of Czechs and Slovaks until they separated in 1993. Deaths in Czechoslovakia from WWII, including military deaths and deaths by military action, numbered over 300,000 people. American and Russian forces liberated Czechoslovakia from German occupation.
On 8 May, it is a day of memorials and celebration in the Czech Republic. Many towns hold parades including at Karlovy Vary and Hradec Kralove and, of course, Prague. The president and prime minister join crowds at the National Memorial on Vitkov Hill to lay wreaths and observe a one-minute silence.
The people of the Czech Republic, especially in towns like Plzeň, also celebrate the holiday with concerts and fireworks. On this day, all schools and government offices are closed and most businesses. In other parts of the world, sometimes wreaths are laid on behalf of the Czechs. For example, in 2008 the Ambassador of the Czech Republic laid a wreath in Canberra, Australia, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.