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Thursday, March 31, 2016

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Origins of the “Moment of Silence” Tradition

Team - 3:09 AM

by Isabela Visan; staff

Practiced in many different cultures across the world, the tradition of keeping a moment of silence is held both in the intimate space of the family and in social settings like homage-paying events. Traditionally, every once in a while, people hold a moment of silence in memory of war casualties, victims of natural disasters or victims of accidents, usually as a mourning gesture at the anniversary of those respective regrettable events.

Actually, the moment of silence was instituted as a form of group prayer (a display of sympathy and a means of conveying the regret of not being able to do more), as a religious gesture that brings together people with different beliefs, including atheists. For this reason, it is also known as a “secular prayer” or “layman’s prayer”.

Carsten Koall, Getty Images
I was very curious to find out the exact origins of this moment of remembrance, which can vary from country to country, although the duration of the silent homage is generally the same everywhere, namely one minute. We can’t refer to it as something that someone once invented, it is rather a generic homage ceremony that takes place in many different parts of the world.

Supposedly, the first time this gesture was made was on November 11. 1919 to mark the first anniversary of the Christmas Truce (the end of WWI) signed in 1918. It was intended as a tribute to casualties of war on all sides.

In the countries that were directly involved in the conflict, the signing of the Truce was celebrated with loud cheering or by dancing in the street, reactions which the Australian journalist and former British Army soldier Edward George Honey found shocking and disgraceful.

Having a fresh memory of the horrors of war, Honey considered that the end of the conflict and its aftermath should rather be marked by a gesture of profound grievance.

Therefore, in an open letter published in the “London Evening News” in May 1919, Honey suggests that every anniversary of the pact should be marked in a solemn manner, namely by keeping 5 minutes of silence.

Politicians from certain countries considered that the gesture lasted a bit too long. Consequently, every individual country adopted its own policy regarding the duration of the moment of silence. In English speaking countries, for instance, the tradition is to keep two minutes of silence, one for the deceased, the other for the survivors.

To conclude, the diplomatic protocol stems out from Edward George Honey’s original proposition.

Experts perceive it as a very important occurrence, a unit of measurement for the magnitude of certain historical events, whose main purpose is to inspire a feeling of unity, respect and remembrance, in spite of it being so short-lived.

Moreover, this symbolic gesture encourages the youth to get a better grasp of major events in the past. It teaches them the importance of adopting the same ritual themselves and inspires them to carry on its meaning in the decades to come.

About the author
Isabela Visan - I have been a member of the HealthyAeon team since 2014. Love is one of the pathways that lead to a complete spiritual liberation. You can follow me on Facebook
This article (Origins of the “Moment of Silence” Tradition) was originally created and published by HealthyAeon. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.

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