Does that sight above look familiar? Yes, you would think you were looking at a 4th of July celebration. Instead that’s the Australia Day celebration in Perth. What is Australia Day, you ask? Australia Day, January 26, is the biggest day of celebration in the country and is observed as a public holiday in all states and territories.
On Australia Day, Australians come together as a nation celebrate what’s great about Australia and being Australian. It’s the day to reflect on what everyone has achieved and what they can be proud of in Australia.
Australia Day, 26 January, is the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet of 11 convict ships from Great Britain, and the raising of the Union Jack at Sydney Cove by its commander Captain Arthur Phillip, in 1788 (you can read a comprehensive history of the evolution of Australia Day here).
Though January 26th marks this specific event, today Australia Day celebrations reflect contemporary Australia: the diverse society and landscape, its remarkable achievements and its future. It also is an opportunity to reflect on the nation’s history, and to consider how all can make Australia an even better place in future.
On Australia Day, over half of the nation’s population of 21 million attend either an organised community event, or get together with family and friends with the intention of celebrating the national day. Many more spend the public holiday relaxing with family and friends.
It’s the Australian equivalent of our 4th of July. Let’s celebrate with them, raise your glasses, give them a clink and say all together now “Happy Australia Day!”
Here in the US, Australia Day is celebrated as well. The U.S. Australian embassy has organized a party; G’DAY USA, an Australian diplomacy program in the United States has barbecues, cricket, and dinners lined up across the country; and Australian Nexus, an online hub for Australians in the United Kingdom, has barbecues and art shows, among other events, lined up. So raise a glass of Fosters, mate, and wish all the Australians, here and at home, a wonderful Australia Day!
Happy Australia Day! We’re heading into our last week of our Down Under Author Showcase. Today’s featured author is Nic Starr. Author of many M/M romance novels, Nic has a special guest blog today in keeping with the fact that its Australia Day! Please check that out, along with Nic Starr’s bio and giveaway! And don’t forget to find the Down Under Scavenger Hunt word of the Day!
Fun Facts about Australia Day – Australia Facts of the Day!
Australia Day is celebrated on the 26th of January every year, marked by most Australians with a day off due to the national public holiday, along with parties, going to the beach and attending fireworks displays.
But do you really know what Australia Day really symbolises? We have compiled a list of some fun and interesting facts about Australia Day and our history that you may not have already known!
• The first recorded Australia Day celebrations were held on January 26, 1808 to mark twenty years since Captain Arthur Phillip raised the flag at Sydney Cove.
• Lachlan Macquarie was the first Australian Governor to hold the first “official” Australia Day celebrations in 1818, to mark thirty years of European settlement. The celebrations included a thirty gun salute and a ball at Government House.
• Australia Day was called “Foundation Day” in the early part of the nineteenth century, and was typically marked by sporting events including horse racing and boat races.
• The first colony to declare Australia Day as a public holiday was New South Wales in 1838, on the 50th anniversary of the Sydney Cove landing.
• By 1888 nearly all of the colonies had declared a public holiday to celebrate Australia Day, but it wasn’t until the 1940’s that January 26th was agreed upon by all states as the proper day to celebrate.
• The two animals featured on the Australian coat of arms are the Emu and the Kangaroo – the reason for this being that neither animal can walk backwards, but instead can always go forwards, symbolising Australia’s desire to do the same.
Does New Zealand have an equivalent to Australia Day and the 4th of July? Yes, it does. It’s Waitangi Day.
Every year on 6 February, New Zealand marks the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. In that year, representatives of the British Crown and over 500 Māori chiefs signed what is often considered to be New Zealand’s founding document. The day was first officially commemorated in 1934, and it has been a public holiday since 1974.
For some people, Waitangi Day is a holiday; for many, and especially for Māori, it is the occasion for reflecting on the Treaty. Since the 1970s the style and mood of the commemorations on Waitangi Day have been influenced by the increasingly heated debate surrounding the place of the Treaty in modern New Zealand.
Waitangi Day is recognised as New Zealand’s national day, but the long-standing tensions associated with it are always likely to surface in one form or another. The date is an important marker in the country’s history. Recognition of the significance of the Treaty of Waitangi as the nation’s founding document will continue to encourage leaders, communities and individuals to mark the day in new ways.
So while it’s not yet Waitangi Day, let’s put a note on our calendars for a special upcoming celebration. Raise a glass of wonderful New Zealand wine, enjoy a movie, perhaps, one of the Lord of the Rings or Whale Rider (a favorite also of mine) and celebrate with them.