Waltzing Matilda Day in Australia Date in the current year: April 6, 2024

Waltzing Matilda Day in Australia Waltzing Matilda Day is celebrated in Australia on April 6 every year. It was created to celebrate a popular song that has been dubbed as Australia’s “unofficial national anthem”.

“Waltzing Matilda” is an Australian song in the genre of bush ballad. If you’re not familiar with Australian slang, you might think that the song is about dancing with a woman. However, in the context of the song “waltzing” means “traveling on foot” with one’s belongings in a “matilda” (a bedroll or, as Australians call it, a swag) slung over one’s back.

“Waltzing Matilda” narrates a story of a swagman (transient laborer traveling on foot from farm to farm) who camped under a tree, made tea in a bucket (billycan), and captured a stray sheep. When the sheep’s owner and three mounted policemen (troopers) pursue the man for theft, he declares that they will never catch him alive and kills himself by drowning in a nearby oxbow lake (billabong), after which the lake is haunted by his ghost.

The original lyrics to the ballad were written by bush poet, journalist and author Banjo Paterson in 1895 to a tune played by his fiancée’s old school friend Christina Macpherson. It was long believed that the first performance of “Waltzing Matilda” took place on April 6, 1895 at the North Gregory Hotel in Winton, Queensland. However, the ballad was most likely written no earlier than August 1895, and its first performance probably took place in September 1895.

Over the next few years, several versions of “Waltzing Matilda” were created by different people, with slight changes to the melody and lyrics. The best-known version of the song was created by Marie Cowan and published in 1903. The first recording of “Waltzing Matilda”, performed by Russell Callow and John Collinson, was made in 1926. Since then, the ballad has become the most recorded Australian song, according to the National Film and Sound Archive.

Over time, “Waltzing Matilda” has become so popular that it is often described as the “unofficial national anthem of Australia”. In fact, when a plebiscite to choose the new national anthem in place of “God Save the Queen” was held in 1977, “Waltzing Matilda” was one of the four options, but it came second to “Advance Australia Fair”.

“Waltzing Matilda” is often unofficially used in the same circumstances as the national anthem: it is performed at sports competitions and various other events, used by some military units as a march, etc. It has been covered numerous times and has appeared in films, televisions series, stage revues, and video games. The song even has a museum dedicated to it, the Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton, that opened in 1998.

The inaugural Waltzing Matilda Day was celebrated in Winton on April 6, 2012. The Board of the Waltzing Matilda Centre organized the celebration to remind Australia of the cultural significance of the song. The date of April 6 was chosen because at the time it was erroneously believed to be the anniversary of the first performance of “Waltzing Matilda”.

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Waltzing Matilda Day, holidays in Australia, unofficial holidays, cultural observances, Waltzing Matilda, Banjo Paterson