Aussies at home and abroad commemorate their national day with much enthusiasm annually on January 26. Australia Day 2021 will be observed amid unprecedented social restrictions and safety measures. Here is a look at what to expect and how to make the most of the big day despite COVID-19 restrictions.
What became Australia Day began in New South Wales as Anniversary Day. The celebration commemorates the emancipation of 850 convicts from Britain’s prisons to form an exile colony in Port Jackson in 1788. By 1935 other areas had joined in celebrating the day. Back then, they called it Foundation Day. The event evolved into a celebration of diversity. Today Australia Day is the official national holiday. The state governments sponsor many events. It is also the day to welcome freshly naturalized Australian citizens officially.
How to celebrate Australia Day
Those who have recently moved to Australia must know a few things about this important day. Official ceremonies aim to preserve traditions. These are meant to show love for the nation and all its symbols. The day’s events include citizenship ceremonies, affirmation ceremonies, reconciliation and recognition, and the Australian of the year award. In the citizenship ceremony, the government confers upon immigrants the right to vote, contest in elections, and travel globally as Australians. In the affirmation ceremony, every Aussie renews their pledge to the nation. The Australian, Aboriginal, and Torres Strait flags are hoisted. Australians sing the national anthem. As part of the ambassador program high achieving, Aussies volunteer to help inspire and improve Australia’s unity. Recognition and reconciliation ceremonies show respect to the status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait citizens. Finally, the Australian of the Year award recognizes citizens with the most significant contribution to the nation.
How Aussies celebrate
Aussies can have many personal ways to enjoy Australia Day. However, some activities are traditional. Beachside cricket or volleyball is one of these. Aussies love barbecue. The national holiday is a perfect occasion to be outdoors for some barbie and drinks. In most cities, there are parades, public concerts, and lots of fireworks in the evening. In Sydney, the celebration features ship racing, boat racing, and ferry racing. Millions of migrant workers live and work in Australia. They support their families back home with remittances via international money transfers. Australia day is the perfect opportunity for migrants to make local friends and level up their cultural integration.
Many Aussies live far from home in places like the UK, Netherlands, and elsewhere. While Aussies at home celebrate the day outdoors, this is not a privilege for most Aussies living abroad, owing to the chilly winter weather. Instead, they connect with fellow Aussies and switch on the native accent. Celebrations include traditional food, Vegemite, drinks, and some barbie in Aussie themed parties.
Australia Day 2021 and COVID-19 restrictions
Many Local Councils reportedly canceled some of the day’s usual activities. Still, the government assures Australians of a memorable celebration in a COVID-19 safe way. A November broadcast by the Australia Local Government Association (ALGA) stated that The National Council on Australia Day had released an AUD 8 million grant for the celebration.
ALGA said that 5 New South Wales councils and two Western Australia councils had canceled the AU day celebrations due to COVID-19 concerns. Celebrations in other councils are unconfirmed since there are no official statements (on a cancellation or otherwise). CEO of Liverpool City Council Eddie Jackson announced that the council would host the awards and citizenship ceremony online. It will also consider the possibility of a digital Australia Day celebration. Ben Morton, Assistant to the Prime Minister, advised that the local government sector and organizers plan the celebration in keeping with the COVID-19 safety guidelines.
Changes for 2021
Australia Day 2021 will be unlike anything preceding. There will be many firsts, including smaller gatherings, social distancing, and virtual participation supported by the governments. An official statement from the NSW government in December said that Circular Quay would be closed. There will be no Sydney Harbor daytime program. Only tour ships will continue to sail. The traditional Australia Day live concert will be held at the Sydney Opera House. Only frontline workers are allowed to attend. There will be live broadcasts of the salutation at Government House, WugulOra Morning Ceremony at Barangaroo Reserve, and the Wheelchair Race.
The best way to celebrate Australia Day 2021 might be a family barbie in the backyard for many Aussies.
Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.