So, you’ve booked your tickets, bought your travel insurance and you’re ready to embark on that trip down under you’ve been dying to take. Australia is known the world over for it’s friendly, laid-back culture, and if you really want to experience Aussie culture at its best, you should get involved with the celebrations on one of the country’s (many) public holidays! Here, we’ve created a list of some of the more culturally significant Australian public holidays and how they’re typically celebrated!
The 26th of January marks Australia Day, the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet, which held the European explorers and settlers who colonized Australia. Anyone who knows anything about colonisation will know that this wasn’t a good thing for the original inhabitants of this land, but the focus on Australia day these days is to embrace a spirit of unity and forward thinking among all Australians. Typically, Australia Day is celebrated nationwide with the great Aussie tradition of the backyard barbecue.
It’s common for people to play backyard cricket and generally enjoy the peak of summer, and among the younger generation there has emerged a tradition of gathering to listen to the ‘Hottest 100’ countdown on national alternative radio station Triple J. The Hottest 100 catalogues the top 100 songs from the previous year based on listener votes, and draws a massive audience as the results are announce live each Australia Day.
ANZAC Day is a much more somber national public holiday and it commemorates the sacrifice made by the Australian and New Zealand armed forces who died in Gallipoli during World War 1. The day features dawn ceremonies held nationwide and marches involving past and present soldiers. The day is not all sad, however—it is the only day of the year on which two-up, a traditional wartime gambling game, is legal in Australia. While it commemorates a sad day in the history of Australia, the tone of the day is gratitude for the sacrifices made.
Christmas in Australia might be a little different to what you are used to if you’re from the Northern Hemisphere, but it’s bound to be a time you’ll enjoy. Usually Aussie families have Christmas lunch instead of Christmas dinner, and the afternoon is spent lazing around, swimming, barbecuing or just generally spending time with family.
New Year’s Eve/Day
While New Year’s Eve is not technically a public holiday, New Year’s Day definitely is, but as we all know it’s the celebrations that go on beforehand that make it truly great. Around Australia, New Year’s Eve is one of the biggest holidays we celebrate, and whether you’re ringing in the New Year on a chic Sydney Harbour cruise or dancing the night away at an outdoor music festival, you’re guaranteed to be infected by the Aussie love of summer and fun.
If you’re travelling to Australia and really want to get a feel for the culture and spirit of the people, visit us during one of our public holidays. Not only will you get a feel for the value system and pastimes of the Australian people, but also you might even get a free beer out of it!