Anzac Day in Australia and New Zealand Date in the current year: April 25, 2024

Anzac Day in Australia and New Zealand On April 25, Anzac Day is observed in Australia and New Zealand. It is a national day of remembrance that honors all those who have given their lives in wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations.

ANZAC stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. It was a World War I army corps that operated during the Gallipoli Campaign that began on April 25, 1915. The ANZAC casualties in that campaign included an estimated 8,700 dead soldiers from Australia and 2,700 from New Zealand. The so-called Anzac spirit became an important part of the Australian and New Zealand national identity.

Anzac Day was first celebrated in 1916. A variety of services and ceremonies were held in both countries. In 1920, it was declared as a public holiday in New Zealand by the Anzac Day Act. Later, it became an official public holiday in Australia as well. All Australian states observed it together for the first time in 1927.

After World War II, Anzac Day became a day of remembrance to commemorate the lives lost in both world wars. In New Zealand, it experienced an increased in popularity immediately after the war, but in a couple of years many people became indifferent or even antagonistic towards the observance. This attitude was partially caused by the legal ban on commerce, sports events and entertainment on the day.

During the Vietnam War, Anzac Day became a point of controversy in Australia. Anti-war protesters condemned Australia’s participation in the war and used Anzac Day as an occasion to organize protests against the Vietnam War, conscription, and the country’s military involvement in general.

The revival of Anzac Day celebrations began in the late 1980s and the 1990s. A major milestone in the holiday’s recovery was the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign. The celebration of Anzac Day has seen an increasing interest from young people, which some perceive as their desire to honor the sacrifices made by the previous generations.

For most Australians and New Zealanders, Anzac Day is an occasion to honor the memory of those who died for their country and to reflect on the cost of war. In Australia, the commemoration usually begins with a dawn service, inspired by the service that was held by an Australian battalion to commemorate the first anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli. The service is often followed by the so-called “gunfire breakfast”, a drink of black coffee and rum that soldiers used to drink before battle.

In cities and towns across Australia, marches by war veterans and current serving members of various service groups are held to commemorate Anzac Day. They are followed by social gatherings of veterans. The nation’s principal ceremony takes place at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Another tradition associated with the day is the Anzac Day match, an Australian rules football match held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Played between Collingwood (the Magpies) and Essendon (the Bombers), it was inspired by the matches played by Australian soldiers serving overseas to bond and celebrate Australian culture.

The commemoration of Anzac Day in New Zealand is similar. It features dawn services, memorial ceremonies, and wearing red paper poppies as symbols of remembrance.

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Anzac Day, public holidays, day of remembrance, holidays in Australia, holidays in New Zealand