For people visiting, studying, or working in Australia, trying to figure out how to celebrate an Australian holiday can be stressful.
As a student from the United States studying in Sydney, I can say that Australia Day involved desperately trying to find parties, parades, or events that would allow me to successfully take part in the celebration of the first fleet of ships that arrived in New South Wales back in 1788.
Fast forward a few months to April, when ANZAC day becomes the next big date on everyone’s calendars. I am embarrassed to say that I had to look up not only what ANZAC stood for, but also the significance of the holiday.
So, I started doing my research. I figured out that ANZAC day celebrates and commemorates all Australians who have fought for their country in various wars. April 25th represents the date that the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (hence the name ANZAC) landed in Gallipoli, Turkey, in 1915 to take part in World War I. The day is celebrated with different services and parades throughout the day, with the main Commemorative Service taking place at 12:30pm at the ANZAC Memorial, next to the Pool of Reflection in Hyde Park.
While many locals do take part in these sombre services around the city, Australians celebrate ANZAC Day in a variety of other ways. Another huge event in Sydney is the Day March, a parade that gives veterans and the public a grand way to celebrate and remember those who have served. The parade begins at 9:00am at the intersection of Martin Place and Elizabeth Street. It then travels down Elizabeth Street and finishes at the end of Hyde Park. The end of the parade is marked with the 12:30pm Commemorative Service mentioned above.
For more info about the Day March and services on ANZAC Day, check out the City of Sydney ANZAC Day Page.
Other traditions reach into bars and parties. Pubs across the city open their doors and allow the national sport of “two-up” to be played. This gambling game, usually prohibited in Australia, is allowed on ANZAC Day to remember soldiers in World War I who passed their time playing the game extensively. Wander into pubs and try your hand. This traditional game involves a “spinner” throwing two pennies into the air, and players bet on whether the coins will land heads or tails. Think you might have a talent for the game? Here and here are a list of pubs that will be offering the game this ANZAC Day, you can also go to the area’s local RSL which will likely be playing this game.
Image thanks to So Perth
Not into gambling? Take part in some of the other traditions of ANZAC Day. Wear a sprig of rosemary to (apparently) improve your memory and to represent the fields of Gallipoli, which apparently ran wild with the aromatic herb. Sprigs of rosemary are handed out at all ANZAC Day services and parades. Make sure you try an ANZAC biscuit, a traditional food that was eaten during World War I as a bread substitute. The food is often baked and sold for fundraisers for veterans’ organizations across Australia.
Image thanks to News.com.au
Overall, ANZAC Day is an awesome way to take a day and remember the sacrifices of veterans who have fought and served in the Australian military. Aside from the traditional ANZAC Day celebrations, jump into any Australian bar across the city to celebrate with locals and watch one of the highly-anticipated sports events. The ANZAC Cup clash between the Sydney Roosters and St. George Illawarra Dragons is one of the highlights of the NRL schedule this season. There’s also the annual ANZAC Day AFL Match where Collingwood play Essendon at the MCG. Make sure that, no matter what you decide to do, you get out into the city and celebrate ANZAC Day with the locals.