Exploring Australian Traditions: Anzac Day

Exploring Australian Traditions: Anzac Day


CC license Kim DoveWhile Carl was exploring the Greek Easter traditions, I have made a move to Australia. I have come down under to discover the country and hope to eventually warm the Australians to MyHeritage. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem, considering that a large part of the nation can trace its ancestors back to European settlers.

But, until that time, I am exploring the country’s traditions, and during my first weekend here, I got a good introduction to it, as Australians celebrated Anzac day. I’d never heard of it, so chances are you haven’ t either, so let me tell you a little bit more about it.

Anzac day is the day that Australians and New Zealanders commemorate the first major military action fought by their forces during the First World War at Gallipoli, Turkey. Under a plan devised by Winston Churchill, the soldiers set out to open the way to the Black Sea for the Allied navies with the ultimate goal of capturing Istanbul, capital of the Ottoman Empire and an ally of Germany. But fierce resistance from the Turkish defenders thwarted their efforts,

causing what was effectively a stalemate which ended eight months later when in 1915, the allied forces were evacuated.

CC license david jackmansonAlthough the Gallipoli campaign was considered a failure, the Australian and New Zealand troops’ actions are widely respected and commemorated as acts of bravery. A great part of that has to do with the fact that when the First World War broke out in 1914, Australia had been a Federal Commonwealth for only thirteen years, and so it was the new nation’s first military act on the world’s stage, creating a legacy which has lived on to become an important part of the national identity of the nation.

CC licence mike lowWhile commemorative services are held throughout the country to honour those that were lost in the war ‘ lest we forget’ , the younger generation Australians have made the day more of an celebration of national identity. Traditional activities include watching the ANZAC day clash rules football match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, with an Anzac Medal being awarded to the player in the match who best exemplifies the Anzac Spirit – skill, courage, self-sacrifice, teamwork and fair play. Other activities include spending a day at the horse races, or playing two-up in the pub, a game which involves tossing two or three coins in the air and bets placed on a showing of heads or tails. It is said to have been popular for Australian troops during WWI and is only legal on special national days.

Did you celebrate the day? Let me know if I missed anything..!

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