Anzac Day: What Does It Stand For?
Anzac is an acronym for the ‘Australian and New Zealand Army Corps’. Every year on April 25, Anzac Day is celebrated in both countries, as well as by nationals of the countries living in other parts of the world.
But what does it mean, and why is it such an important date for these countries?
Commemorating the Attempt to Capture the Gallipoli Peninsula
Anzac Day originally celebrated the anniversary of the first action of the Anzacs in World War I, which was the capture of the Gallipoli Peninsula and Constantinople. The aim was to get Turkey out of the war quickly, but it did not turn out to be so simple.
In the end it turned into an eight-month campaign, and both sides suffered serious casualties. The campaign failed, and more than 8,000 soldiers were killed.
The news was taken very badly in Australia and New Zealand, and the earliest Anzac Day was held in 1916 while the war still carried on. The date chosen was April 25 because this was the day that the force landed. Ever since, the day has been commemorated as a day of remembrance.
What Anzac Day Means Today
Anzac Day originally commemorated the soldiers who died in the Gallipoli campaign. However, it has now come to symbolise the losses in both World Wars as well as more recent wars.
In addition, the identity of both nations were forged to a certain extent by the events of World War I, and in many ways it is also seen as a day of national identity.
It is also used as a reminder of how the countries have fought alongside each other in the past, and many consider it to be a day of reflection about the meanings of war.
Where Is Anzac Day Celebrated?
The date became a day for patriotism and recruitment during the war itself, and now it is celebrated in towns and cities across Australia and New Zealand.
As well as being celebrated in the countries, it is also celebrated by Australians and New Zealanders all over the world. Indeed, the first Anzac Day was celebrated in London where soldiers based there marched through the streets. Now it is celebrated in places as diverse as the USA and Afghanistan, and wherever there are communities of Australians and New Zealanders.
Anzac Day Traditions
The main commemoration rituals that are seen today came about in the 1930s. One of the most important of these is the Dawn Service. This is held at dawn because that was the time of the original landing, and these are sombre affairs that are held all over both countries.
In addition, marches of ex-servicemen and women are held in larger towns and cities, and ceremonies are held at war memorials. These include the laying of wreaths, prayers, the Last Post and the national anthems.
Rosemary is often worn on the day, and this is because it was found growing on the Gallipoli peninsula. Anzac Poppies are also used in wreaths, and the Anzac Biscuit is also eaten. This was originally a biscuit sent by friends and families to the soldiers during World War I. Because it took so long to arrive, it had to be something that would survive the journey. It typically includes flour, rolled oats, butter, sugar, treacle and coconut, and it was originally known as the Soldiers’ Biscuit.
Celebrate the Significance of Anzac Day
Anzac Day is very important for Australia and New Zealand. If you are in either country on April 25, take part in the commemorations yourself and pay your respects to the men and women who died in World War I and all the other wars that have followed.