Celebrated annually on April 25, Anzac Day is one of the nation’s most important days on our calendars.
This year’s Anzac Day will see a return to communities coming together, as commemorations and dawn services are set to take place across the country.
Whether you’ve recently moved to Australia or you were born and raised here, having an understanding of what Anzac Day is and why it is so important to Australians is integral.
What is Anzac Day all about?
Anzac Day marks the first major military battle fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during World War I.
On April 25, 1915, the Anzacs — the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps — landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey.
They were part of an allied mission to capture Constantinople — now Istanbul — the capital of one of Germany’s major allies, the Ottoman Empire.
What was expected to be a quick military campaign, turned into a long battle with heavy loss of life.
The Anzacs were met with heavy resistance from the Ottomon Turks, which dragged out their campaign for eight months.
There were mass casualties and great hardships on both sides.
While the campaign culminated in defeat for the Anzacs, their bravery during this battle left a powerful legacy that continues to be commemorated.
Do we get a public holiday this year?
This year’s Anzac Day falls on Monday, April 25 so, yes. It’ll be a long weekend across the country.
Will everyone be standing on their driveways again?
With 2020 and 2021 being heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Australians were forced to change their annual Anzac Day traditions and even make new ones.
The “Light Up The Dawn” campaign was created in 2020 and it saw people across Australia take to their driveways to pay their respects to the Anzac troops.
In 2022, the pandemic still hasn’t disappeared. However, most Australians are allowed back at services and marches this year.
In fact, NSW will see a return to full commemorative services for the first time in three years, with some special changes being introduced.
The traditional Australian gambling game called Two-up is typically only legal to play on Anzac Day. But this year, it’s being extended over the three-day long weekend, as an incentive for people to head to their local pub or club and get involved with this Anzac tradition.
While the rules differ slightly between states and territories, dawn services and marches will be happening almost as normal across the rest of Australia. All the rules we’ve come to expect — social distancing, washing your hands, staying away if you’re unwell — will be in effect.
If you want to find a local event, and what rules might apply, you can head to the RSL Australia website.
Are shops open on Anzac Day?
Anzac Day is considered a restricted trading day until 1pm, which means independent retail shops will remain closed until this time.
Shops that are exempt from this include petrol stations, pharmacists, convenience stores and some cafes.
How is it commemorated?
There are two significant parts to Anzac Day — memorial services held at dawn and marches later in the day.
The dawn services symbolise the time at which the Anzac forces originally landed at Gallipoli.
During these early morning ceremonies, a hymn, prayer, laying of wreaths, recitation and a period of silence occur, culminating with a bugler’s rendition of the Last Post.
After this, families often place red poppies besides the names of relatives on the Memorial Roll of Honour — a record of the Australian armed forces who died during, or as a result of, their war service.
The marches that take place throughout the day feature former soldiers, current servicemen and servicewomen and their relatives.
Larger ceremonies are held at war memorials around Australia and New Zealand, which are typically broadcast on commercial and public television and radio channels.
What if I miss the dawn service?
If you weren’t up early enough to see the dawn service, you can attend — or find broadcasts of — capital city marches during the day. These will be broadcast on ABC TV, live on ABC capital city Facebook accounts and on the ABC’s capital city local radio websites.
The Anzac Biscuit
In an effort to boost morale, loved ones sent care packages containing Anzac biscuits to troops.
With their tough exterior and consistency, the Anzac biscuit was designed to travel well over several weeks at sea.
The recipe doesn’t contain any eggs. Instead, golden syrup is what binds this sweet treat together.
Years later, you can still find the iconic Anzac biscuit at supermarkets, cafes, school canteens and in many people’s kitchens.
What does the red poppy symbolise?
During World War I, red poppies were among the first plants to grow on the Western Front in Europe.
Soldiers believed the blood of their comrades soaking in the ground created the vivid red of the flower.
It’s an enduring symbol of remembrance — a representation of those who lost their lives or suffered in wars.
Why is rosemary an Anzac Day tradition?
Rosemary is linked to Anzac Day because it grew wild across the Gallipoli Peninsula.
Dating back to folk medicine centuries ago, rosemary has long been associated with improving memory.
Which is why, like the red poppy, it became a symbol of remembrance.
As a sign of respect on Anzac Day, a sprig of rosemary is worn, often with a red poppy.
Anzac Day fast facts
- All of the Australian Anzacs were volunteers, whereas New Zealand introduced conscription in late 1916
- The site where the Anzacs landed at Gallipoli has been renamed Anzac Cove
- Australians often travel there for the annual ceremonies, which were cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic
- New Zealand also observes Anzac Day on April 25
- The term “Anzac” is protected under Australian law
The original Anzac biscuit was a savoury version, known as the Anzac tile or wafer