The official name for the much popular Australia’s National Day is Australia Day which is celebrated annually on January 26 since 1994. The day is now celebrated with a set of mixed feelings because the day not only marks the first European settlement in Australia but also the death of the colonies of the aboriginal people who were forced to leave their colonies because of the European Settlement.
History of Australia Day
Each holiday which is celebrated on a grand scale by masses indeed as its fascinating history and Australia Day is not an exception. The day has its roots in the arrival of the first fleet of ships that sent to Australia from England on May 13, 1787.
It was a fleet of 11 ships carrying mostly convicts who were exiled from Great Britain that arrived in Australia on January 20, 1788. At first, they were supposed to set up a colony at Botany Bay, a beach in New South Wales, Australia. However, the area was deemed unfit for settlement.
The captain of the ship and his team then look for a better place and settle at Port Jackson, now known as the famed Sydney Harbour. The captain Arthur Philip then named the place as Sydney Cove in honour of Thomas Townshend who was conferred upon the title “Viscount Sydney” in England. January 26 was the day when the colony of convicts finally gets settled. No wonder, the flag of Great Britain was hoisted on the landing site on the same day.
However, the day becomes an official holiday only after three decades i.e. in 1818. At that time, it came to be known as the Foundation Day. The journey was not smooth because most of the convicts have little or no experience in farming. They experience starvation and suffered much because of the unfamiliar climate, but they never gave up! They continue to work hard and by the 19th century, most of them were prospered. This new-found prosperity and a rise in their population encourage them to seek independence from Great Britain.
As a result, they move to other places on the island and form new settlements. Gradually, they all form the Federation of Australia. In 1935, the Australian states and territories started to acknowledge January 26 as Australia Day, but the day becomes an official public holiday only in 1994.
How people celebrate Australia day
There are widespread celebrations across the country to celebrate the day. It is estimated that more than 13 million Aussies participate in the celebrations each year beaming with Australian pride. While you can spot the street dotted with Australian flags, many sports contests, firework displays, and community gatherings are organized with much enthusiasm.
The most popular ones are the boat race organized in Sydney Harbour and the car show in Melbourne. Apart from these, there is also an abundance of live music and picnics where people socialize and have a good time together. Citizenship ceremonies are also held at many places on Australia Day, but many people have stopped organizing any such events in recent years. They instead hold events that commemorate the Aboriginal culture on this day.
So, indeed the history and the diverse ways in which Aussies celebrate and acknowledge the day is fascinating. Please stay tuned with us for the next post.