simply, "commemorate" is normally negative or bad, while "celebrate" is usually positive or good. you commemorate a sad event (such as 9/11), but you celebrate a birthday. commemorate is not as common in everyday talking, though
Commemorate is a ceremony or gathering to respectfully remember an event or person. Celebrate is a fun social gathering to acknowledge a day or event. We celebrated our anniversary. He celebrated his promotion. We attended the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
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