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Anzac Day is both an important and solemn celebration, shared by Australia and New Zealand. The history of Anzac Day Australia began during World War One, a major modern war with great numbers of losses. Now, Aussies celebrate the day with equal amounts of respect, mourn, and pride, with various events to commemorate it.
Interested in traveling to Australia and seeing it yourself? Make sure you understand more about this important day to show the proper amount of respect.
What is Anzac Day?
Celebrated every 25 April, “Anzac” in Anzac Day came from ANZAC, the formal initials for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. They engaged in the Gallipoli Campaign during World War One, where many of the army members died. The campaign also marked the first major military campaigns of these two countries, since both of them were in the Allies.
Now, Anzac Day is also seen as the celebration of every patriot who served and died for their countries, both as military members and members of supporting organizations. The Aussies observe the day with events such as commemorative services, military dawn services, parades, and special events like sports matches and social gatherings.
How Did Anzac Day Start?
Anzac Day started as the response toward the heroism of the ANZAC troops during the Gallipoli Campaign. What started as a battle between ANZAC and the Turkish Ottoman Army on 25 April 1915 quickly turned into a fierce campaign that lasted for eight months. At the end of 1915, around 56,000 service members from both Australia and New Zealand perished.
While the campaign itself was a failure, the bravery of the ANZAC force became a wartime legend. The “Anzac legend” was born, describing the shared national identities between Australia and New Zealand, connected with the exemplary exploits of their soldiers during the World War. These shared identities also gave both countries psychological strength during the uncertain times.
25 April later became a special day to remember for people in Australia and New Zealand. However, it took a while before countries decided to adopt this date as a national holiday.
When Did Anzac Day Become a Holiday?
Interestingly, different states and cities in Australia used to commemorate the day of remembrance on separate dates. For example, Adelaide erected a monument to respect ANZAC force on 7 September 1915.e South Australia later adopted 13 September 1915 as their first Anzac Day. Meanwhile, Melbourne chose 17 December 1915.
The true Anzac Day date was established after the appointment of military clergy David John Garland as the honorary secretary of Anzac Day commemoration in Queensland. His task was to promote 25 April as the national Anzac Day, making sure that the public could contribute to commemoration events instead of just service members.
Finally, the first official Anzac Day was celebrated on 25 April 1916. Australia, along with New Zealand and England, celebrated with special services and processions. During the first Anzac Day in Australia, all the wounded soldiers that returned alive from Gallipoli joined the street marches, accompanied by nurses.
How Aussies Celebrate Anzac Day
Australia celebrates Anzac Day with respect and solemn remembrance. The shared identities and strength born from the sacrifices of the service members have formed national pride. The Aussies believe that the event in Gallipoli was one of the things that contributed to modern Australia. There are also the living family members and descendants of the fallen service members who keep the remembrance alive.
During Anzac Day, Australia conducts several major events, which are:
Dawn Service is a standing ceremony conducted at the Australian War Memorial. At 4:30 in the morning, a representative from the Australian Defense Force read lines from diaries and letters from Australians who experienced war. It also involves laying wreaths to commemorate the fallen service members.
Commemorative Ceremony for Indigenous Veterans
Australia does not forget the services done by Aboriginal and Torres Islander veterans. This part of the ceremony involves speeches, laying wreaths, and special addresses for the veterans.
Veteran’s March in Australia usually starts around 9:30, followed by the national Anzac Day address. These events are televised, and there are large screens to broadcast the speech within the Memorial area.
Last Day Post Ceremony
This ceremony is conducted later during the day. After the coming of social media, it has been streamed through Australian Memorial War’s Facebook page regularly. This ceremony is often used to honor individual Australians who had commendable records during the First World War.
The entire Australia also flies the flag in half mast during this day. A special Australian football game called Anzac Day Match is also played in Australia, New Zealand, and other countries that have strong bonds with Australia. This is because football is one of the popular sports used for bonding between soldiers.
Facts About Anzac Day
As a meaningful day for Australia, Anzac Day has given birth to a lot of customs, traditions, and interesting facts. Here are some of them:
Poppies as Commemorative Flowers
Anzac Day places special importance in red poppies. Since they were among the first flowers that grew on war-torn battlefields, red poppies were thought to grow from the blood of fallen soldiers, which the soil had absorbed. Now, red poppies are used as popular wreaths to honor the service members.
Anzac Biscuits as Popular Treats
Anzac biscuits were said to be created by the family members of the soldiers fought in World War One. The basic recipe uses ingredients like rolled oats, golden syrup, butter, flour, sugar, and sometimes desiccated dried coconuts. The ingredients are said to keep the biscuits from going stale during the shipping. The recipes are now available widely, and you can find them online or at certain stores or events following Anzac Day.
Rosemary for Remembrance
Do you know that rosemary is a big part of the Anzac Day tradition? Many people and service members wear or bring rosemary wreaths and sprigs, and even present them during special events. This is because rosemary symbolizes memory and grows abundantly in Gallipoli.
The history of Anzac Day Australia shows the meaning of this day for Australian people and their allies, especially related to shared identities and national pride. Make sure to be respectful if you visit Australia during this special period.