January 26th. If the date rings a bell, you’re probably Australian.
For the rest of the world, this day might be just another day but not for Down Under. It’s Australia Day, for those who don’t know.
A highly anticipated and much celebrated event, Australia Day is a national public holiday celebrated every 26th of January. On this day, schools are closed and Australians take a day off. To celebrate the day, people host parties, have picnics and barbecues, call for same day flower delivery, go to the beach and attend events.
But what is Australia Day, really?
For the non-Australians, we’ll share some of the most important facts to know about Australia Day.
- The first recorded celebration dates way back January 26, 1808 – twenty years after the First Fleet arrived at Sydney Cove where Capt. Arthur Phillip raised the flag, claiming the land for Great Britain.
- For the first 100 years, Australia Day was mostly celebrated by the people in New South Wales. In fact, NSW was the first colony to declare it a public holiday in 1838, the 50th anniversary of the landing at Sydney Cove.
- By 1888, almost all of the colonies have declared Australia Day a public holiday. In the 1940s, all the states agreed to make January 26th the official day to celebrate the holiday.
- In the earlier part of the 19th century, the holiday was called Foundation Day. It was renamed Australia Day in 1946.
- Back in the day, Australia Day was typically celebrated with sporting events like boat races and horse racing. Today, it is still celebrated with various outdoor events such as music festivals, competitions, community awards ceremonies and grand fireworks display.
- Not all Australians celebrate the holiday. Many Aboriginal Australians don’t approve of celebrating the day the British landed on their soil and took over the land.
- Australia Day is a highly-participated holiday. According to estimates, majority of the country’s citizens take part in the celebrations. Some attend organised events, some celebrate with family and friends and some simply buy flowers online to send to their loved ones along with their personal messages or greetings.
- A huge part of the holiday celebrations are citizenship ceremonies. In 2011, approximately 13,000 people because Australian citizens during the holiday.
- There have been suggestions to change the holiday’s date due to a number of concerns. Some of the proposed alternative dates include: 1 January (Federation of Australia), 25 January (day before British settlement), 25 April (Anzac Day), 9 May (Opening of the first Federal Parliament), 27 May (Anniversary of the 1967 referendum) and 3 December (Eureka Stockade).
- Among the different awards given on this day, Australian of the Year is one of the most popular. The award has been given since 1960. Some of the most notable winners include painter Arthur Boyd, cricket player Steve Waugh and actor Geoffrey Rush.
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