Anzac Day on April 25 is one of Australia and New Zealand’s most important and revered national occasions. The acronym stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. This day marks the anniversary of the first major military action the countries’ forces fought during World War I. With the many commemorative services and memorials available today, Anzac Day is a time in which Australians reflect on the many different meanings of war, while honoring those who have given their lives for their country.
When is Anzac Day 2024?
The brave Australians and New Zealanders who served and lost their lives at war to maintain peace are remembered and honored in these countries on Anzac Day on April 25.
History of Anzac Day
In Australia and New Zealand, April 25 is the national day of commemorating victims of war and honoring the role of the armed forces. The day marks and remembers the first massive military participation by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.
‘Anzac’ stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. In history, April 25, 1915, was the day that Anzac troops landed at Gallipoli, Turkey. After the invasion of Belgium in 1914, war was declared against Germany by Great Britain. As part of the British Empire, Australia and New Zealand were obligated to participate in the war.
On April 25, 1915, soldiers of the Allies started to land at Gallipoli at dawn. The mission was to reach Istanbul, eliminate Turkey from the war, and also provide supplies for Russia against Germany. There were a total of 70,000 soldiers, out of which approximately 20,000 were Australian and New Zealand soldiers. As bold as this entire mission was, it reached a deadlock and the troops failed at their objective. The mission was drawn out for eight months and eventually, they withdrew by the end of 1915.
In 1915, October 13 was the first day to be referred to as Anzac Day. This observance was to take the place of the Eight-Hour Day holiday and occurred in Adelaide. The first ‘Anzac Day’ was more of a patriotic holiday that aimed to raise awareness of the soldiers’ efforts and to raise funds, rather than the serious commemoration it became.
The Allied Forces retreated after there were severe casualties on both sides. Reportedly, 2,700 New Zealanders and 8,700 Australians were killed. A year later, the first anniversary of the event was observed by England, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as the troops in Egypt. In the same year, April 25 was officially declared as ‘Anzac Day’ by George Pearce, the acting Australian Prime Minister. By the mid-1920s, Anzac Day had become a national public holiday.
Anzac Day timeline
Australian and New Zealand soldiers become part of the Allies to capture the Gallipoli peninsula.
Anzac Day is established as a national day of commemoration for the more than 60,000 Australians who died during the First World War.
Rituals such as dawn vigils, marches, memorial services, reunions, and two-up games are established as part of Anzac Day culture.
Indigenous communities organize Anzac Day marches to remember fallen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander soldiers.
Traditions of the Day
Anzac Day is a massive national holiday in Australia and New Zealand, with a number of traditions observed annually. The history of Anzac Day is revised and told for all future generations to remember. To honor the historical event in WWI, the first tradition of the day begins at dawn with the ‘dawn service.’ This is the time Anzac soldiers made their move on Gallipoli beach. This is followed by a traditional ‘gunfire breakfast,’ just like the troops had during World War I. Marches and parades follow, with participants wearing medals and rosemary. Wreaths of flowers are also laid for the deceased.
Warfare and the Anzac troops are the hot topics of the day, with historical material, photographs of post-campaign ceremonies, and sound recordings available for educational purposes and to preserve their significance.
Anzac Day FAQs
What does Anzac Day stand for?
‘Anzac’ stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.
Why is Anzac Day important?
Anzac Day is among Australia’s most important national holidays. The day marks the historical military action by the Australian and New Zealand forces during World War I.
How many Anzacs died at Gallipoli?
By the end of the campaign, around 130,000 men had died, including 8,700 Australians and 2,800 New Zealanders.
How to Observe Anzac Day
Attend a dawn service
Military forces favored the half-light of dawn for launching an attack. As a result, a dawn vigil became the basis for commemoration in several places after the war. Partake in this reflective tradition by attending a dawn service.
Visit a war memorial
Sometimes the best way to celebrate is through peace and solitude. Visit a war memorial to brush up on your history and learn the names of those who gave their lives.
Plan a trip to Gallipoli
Australian and New Zealand forces engaged in the Gallipoli military campaign on April 25, 1915, which became the original inspiration for the holiday. Visit the commemorative memorials and stunning battlefield sites for an eye-opening experience and learn why it helped foster a sense of national identity for New Zealand and Australia.
5 Facts About Anzac Day
The Anzacs were only volunteers
Brave men signed up for the Anzacs voluntarily to fight for their country.
Only on Anzac Day
A traditional gambling game called ‘Two-up’ is only played on Anzac Day in Australia.
Last man standing
The last surviving soldier who fought in the Gallipoli campaign, Alec Campbell, passed away in 2002.
Anzac biscuits broke teeth
Originally, the Anzac biscuits were hard, square biscuits that became a staple food and even souvenirs.
The soldiers on both sides called a truce during the Gallipoli campaign for eight hours to bury their dead.
Why Anzac Day is Important
It's a day of remembrance
Anzac Day began as a day to honor those who lost their lives in World War I. Now it recognizes all veterans who have paid the ultimate price.
These warriors embody courage and sacrifice on the battlefield and demonstrate what it means to truly serve a country.
Mateship is an important Australian idiom that represents loyalty, companionship, and equality among people (especially men). Anzac Day honors the perseverance of military forces and the strength of their bond during hardship. The landings on the beach at Gallipoli remain a culturally defining moment for Australia and New Zealand.
Anzac Day dates