ANZAC Day: What Is It?
ANZAC Day, abbreviated for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps Day, is a national remembrance day observed widely in Australia and New Zealand. On this occasion, the countries remember those who laid down their lives and served in the Gallipoli Campaign, wars and peacekeeping operations on April 25, 1915 during World War I.
When World War I broke in 1914, ANZAC or Australian and New Zealand Army Forces were at a heavy loss since many lives were lost and the Allied forces failed to open any trading route to Russia. Hence, Australians saw this hardship as a spirit of unity and began observing the ANZAC Day with an idea of “mateship”.
Is ANZAC Day a Public Holiday?
ANZAC Day is observed as a public holiday in two states and two external territories in Australia. In these regions, this day calls for a holiday, where all the schools, colleges, universities, government and private sector offices remain closed. On this day, the “Eternal Flame” can be witnessed at the ANZAC Square, Brisbane, which is dedicated to the Australian military heritage.
In Western Australia, ANZAC Day, said to be one of the significant Holidays 2020, is observed as a general holiday the following Monday if April 25 falls on a Saturday or Sunday. In the Australian Capital Territory, public servants are granted an off on this day excluding federal government employees. In the Northern Territory, ANZAC Day is regarded as a holiday the following Monday only if April 25 occurs on a Sunday.
ANZAC Day History
ANZAC Day history holds relevant significance and commemorates the beginning of its observance.
Gallipoli Campaign, 1915
In the year 1915, Australian and New Zealand forces joined hands to carry out an Allied Expedition whose main aim was to seize the Gallipoli Peninsula in order to open the way through the Black Sea. The main objective was to capture the capital of the Ottoman Empire, Constantinople. The ANZAC Forces landed at the Gallipoli Peninsula on 25 April and faced fierce opposition from the Ottoman Army under the commandment of Mustafa Kemal.
This went for eight long months, which led to major losses and heavy casualties. With 1915 ending, the forces were withdrawn and evacuated. This made a heavy impact on the Australians, who began observing 25 April as the ANZAC Day and remembering the sacrifices made by the forces. Since then, this powerful legacy is being carried out for years.
On 25 April, 1916, commemorative events for the ANZAC Day were held for the first time in Australia. Memorial ceremonies, marches and events were held throughout the country, wounded soldiers and nurses were carried out in a convoy of cars throughout Sydney and patriotic rallies were organized. In the following years, vigils, dawn services, commemoration services, sports events etc. became a part of the ANZAC Culture.
ANZAC Day Celebrations in Australia
Let’s take a quick look at the ANZAC Day Celebrations held across Australia:
Dawn Service in Australia
A Dawn Service is held in several parts of Australia, where war veterans, their families and general public take active part. Previously, the veterans were asked to stand at dawn while the "Last Post" was played in the background, and then followed a two-minute silence ending with "Reveille". In current times, these ceremonies include reading prayers, hymns, singing Australian National Anthem, laying the wreaths etc. The fourth verse of the popular poem "For the Fallen", known as "the Ode" or "Ode of Remembrance", is sung.
At several clubs, the Gunfire Breakfast is served to the general people. This is the name given to the breakfast that was eaten by soldiers before the morning battle began. Normal breakfast included Jam-Biscuits, and Tinned Bully Beef with Coffee mixed with Rum or Condensed Milk. Hence, this breakfast is still served at several RSL clubs or events organized on ANZAC Day.
Commemorative Services and Traditions
Nationwide, veterans, current members of the Australian Defence Force, allied veterans, Australian Air League members, Australian Defence Force Cadets and Australian Scouts etc. take part in marches. Social gatherings are held at RSL clubs, a traditional game called Two-Up is played, and a commemorative ceremony is organized at the Australian War Memorial.
Australian Rules Football
Australian Football is played on the ANZAC Day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground between Collingwood and Essendon, and draws a major crowd. The Player of the Match is entitled with the ANZAC Medal.
Rugby League Football
Since 1997, a rugby league test match known as the ANZAC Test has been played in commemoration of ANZAC Day. Usually, this match is played between the national teams of New Zealand and Australia. Thousands of people witness this game and cheer for their favourite team. Since 2009, an additional game has been organized between the New Zealand Warriors and Melbourne Storm.
Public Life on ANZAC Day
ANZAC Day usually is commemorated on April 25 every year in Australia, but some states may follow a different arrangement. Majorly, several retail stores, shopping malls, supermarkets, schools, organizations etc. remain closed on ANZAC Day. However, stores dealing with motor parts and building materials can remain open between a selected time period.
Public transport on this day operates according to the region, as time may vary. On this occasion, commemorative events such as marches and parades are organized. Memorials are held at the War Memorial Centers across the country. On this day, people reflect on the sacrifices made by the frontline warriors and remember their acts of patriotism and devotion towards the country.
ANZAC Day Observances
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1. What is popularly eaten on ANZAC Day?
Bully Beef, commonly called Tinned Corned Beef, Jam, Cocoa, Rice, Bread, ANZAC Wafers or Hard Tack, ANZAC Biscuits, Sausages, Tomatoes, Beans etc. are eaten.
2. Why is ANZAC Day celebrated?
ANZAC Day is considered an important national occasion in Australia and marks the anniversary of the day during World War One when major casualties occurred in the Australian and New Zealand forces
3. What is worn on ANZAC Day?
Traditionally, a sprig of Rosemary is worn on the left side on ANZAC Day. You can pin it to a coat or dress accordingly.
4. What do you mean by “Gunfire Breakfast” on ANZAC Day?
The Gunfire Breakfast refers to the breakfast done by soldiers before the battle starts. This was usually eaten cold in darkness in order to avoid any kind of smoke or sound.
5. Which flower symbolises the ANZAC Day?
One of the most significant flowers associated with this day is Flanders Poppies, Rosemary Sprigs and Roses for commemoration.
From the above information, it is evident that the ANZAC Day 2020 in Australia is celebrated with a great sense of patriotism on April 25, Saturday.
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