Another long weekend is approaching us here in Australia. January 26 marks our official national day – what we call Australia Day. It is the anniversary of when the First Fleet landed in 1788 and it was only in 1994, that we consistently celebrated it as a national public holiday.
So what are we really celebrating?
The Australia Day Council explains it as:
On Australia Day we come together as a nation to celebrate what’s great about Australia and being Australian.
And around the country, Australians spend the day attending community events, watching the cricket (if it happens to be on) or playing backyard cricket, having BBQs, going to concerts, splashing around in the pool or the beach, water sports and sailing…. etc the list goes on! Then to top off the cracking day, there are always some fireworks!
But there is no right or wrong way to spend the day.
Regardless of what everyone is doing, there is likely to be food involved:
- what Aussies fondly term “a sausage sizzle”: which are sausages cooked on the BBQ, then served with a bread roll, topped with barbecued onion. Sauces are optional.
- if not a sausage sizzle, then a BBQ of some sort.
- a picnic.
- a lamb roast, a leg of lamb or lamb cutlets… don’t forget the mint sauce: weeks leading up to Australia Day, we have regular TV advertisements for lamb.
- an ice-cold beer.
- at the community events, there is bound to be food trucks of all cuisines. There’ll be gozlemes, dumplings, hot chips, kebabs plus plenty of other choices.
- something entirely different because what’s traditional?!
And that is the beauty of being Australian. We are all different and we respect diversity.
- We might not all say G’day but a helluva lot of us say, “How ya going?” or “No worries.”
- We might not all wear cork hats but we certainly love our “thongs” (for our American friends – they are what you call flipflops)
- We might not all love cricket but there’s plenty of sports for us to choose from.
- We might not all drink beer but we use beer to batter our fish.
But Australia Day isn’t just about sports and food, there is a serious side.
On this day, Australians with outstanding achievements are acknowledged. There are 4 categories: Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year (60 years and over), Young Australian of the Year (16 to 30 years) and Australia’s Local Hero. To read more, visit the Australian of the Year Awards website.
Also on this day, citizenship ceremonies are hosted around the country. Those whose application have been approved, make their Pledge of Commitment at these ceremonies then become Australian citizens.
The Australia Day Council say:
Though 26 January marks this specific event [the landing of the First Fleet], today Australia Day celebrations reflect contemporary Australia: our diverse society and landscape, our remarkable achievements and our bright future. It also is an opportunity to reflect on our nation’s history, and to consider how we can make Australia an even better place in future.
If you are in Australia, what are you doing on January 26?
Or tell us about your National Day and what you do.
Tell us how you celebrate.