Friday 8 May 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day, also known as Victory in Europe Day. VE Day is remembered as one of the largest nationwide celebrations in modern British history and a date on which the country came together in jubilation to mark the end of the Second World War. The city of Coventry played a vital role in World War Two, with large numbers of young men signing up to fight and with those unable to join the military performing important roles at home. With its history of engineering and manufacturing, Coventry was a key place for the mass production of resources going towards the war effort. Following the end of war announcement, the streets of Coventry were flooded with celebrations. Thousands of people across the city joined together to fly Union Jacks, decorate buildings and streets with homemade banners and bunting, light bonfires and play music, there was even an orchestra set up outside the Hippodrome (where the Transport Museum stands today) to entertain the revellers in the city centre. Following this, services were held in the ruins of Coventry Cathedral and at Holy Trinity, and loudspeakers were set up in Broadgate for Winston Churchill’s VE Day message at 3pm. 2020 is the 75th anniversary of VE Day, and while most national plans have been cancelled due to Coronavirus, we wanted to share a series of ways you can bring the VE Day celebrations into your own home. So, here are some creative ways to celebrate this important day in our history, and maybe even throw your own VE Day party whilst staying safe at home!
Reflect on the importance of VE Day by reading the poem ‘Victory is Ours’
The talented Coventry poet Chrissie Okorie has written a heartfelt and moving poem titled ‘Victory is Ours’ to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day. The poem reflects on the celebrations that took place on the day itself and asks us to remember all of those that fought with us across the globe. It also makes a special mention of Coventry as a city of peace and reconciliation, as a result of the forgiveness and love it showed when the cathedral was bombed.
Listen to a reading of 'Victory is Ours' below:
On your marks, get set, BAKE!
No celebration can be properly marked without a baked good or two! The lovely people at Miss Ellie’s of Coventry have shared a delicious recipe for a traditional Cov Batch (no other word meaning bread item is acceptable!) and a very tempting classic scone, so that you can have your own VE Day afternoon tea.
Make your own celebratory bunting
So you have got a sense of civic pride by reading the poem, your batches and scones are in the oven cooking as we speak…what is next? Of course! You can’t celebrate without some decorations! Luckily the fabulous Marianne, a local Coventry artist, has done a video tutorial on how to make your own VE Day bunting from different materials like plastic bags and old newspapers.
Embrace the iconic style of 1945 and learn to put a Victory Roll in your hair
The oh-so-stylish Natalie, from Rock'n'Roller Parlour in FarGo Village, has created a brilliant and educational hairstyle tutorial so that the longer haired people among us can look the part on VE Day. She looks at the history of the iconic Victory Roll and then takes us through a step by step guide on how to create the perfect look.
Learn to Lindy Hop
Lindy Hop was a style of Jazz dance that was popular before and after the Second World War, and nothing says celebrate like a bit of boogie! The brilliant Ashley Jordan and guest dancer Emily Robertson, from Ascension Dance in Coventry, have put together a tutorial to teach us how to dance to the wonderful song, ‘In The Mood’ by Glen Miller. Once you have completed the tutorial, why not film yourself doing the dance? You can share it with us and Ascension Dance on social media using the hashtag #CovLindyHop.
An audio described version of the Lindy Hop tutorial can be found on YouTube by following the link below:
You can also find a full equipment list of everything you will need for these activities below:
So now you're ready to party like it's 1945 and celebrate this important anniversary in style, safely from your own home! If you are interested in other VE Day celebrations and events, here is a breakdown of what else is going on locally and nationally.
VE Day and Coventry
- To learn more about VE Day in Coventry, you can listen to five Coventry residents share their memories of the day.
- Coventry Live have put together a gallery of images of VE Day celebrations in Coventry.
- Coventry BID is working with local business to provide takeaway afternoon teas, VE Day hampers and roast dinners across the long weekend, which you can learn more about here.
National VE Day schedule and broadcasting from the BBC
- 11am Two-minute national silence to remember the declaration of victory and the end of the Second World War in Europe.
- 2.45pm - 3.45pm The first of two special BBC One programmes to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day, including an extract from Sir Winston Churchill’s victory speech.
- Late afternoon — Early evening The perfect time to put your VE Day party preparations to good use!
- 9pm — Address by the Queen followed by national doorstep rendition of Dame Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again.
For more information on other VE Day activities click the links below.
- For information from the British Legion, click here.
- You can find a full UK TV schedule for VE Day here.
- Discover the BBC Great British Bunting Challenge here.
- For more ideas on how to celebrate VE Day, click here.
- The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport have created a VE Day party guide, which you can find here.
- For plans on Her Majesty the Queen's address to nation, click here.
If you want to teach children or younger people about the importance of VE Day, take a look at the resources here.