New Years Day 1 January
Many people stay up late New Years Eve to celebrate and count down to the new year. Sydney comes alive News Years Eve with parties and fireworks, with an especially extravagant fireworks display along Sydney Harbour and the Harbour Bridge. Thousands of people start gathering early in the day around the harbour for a good spot to have a picnic and watch the fireworks. New Years Day is a relaxed affair and many Sydneysiders spend it at the beach or at barbecues.
Australia Day 26 January
January 26, 1788 is the date Captain Arthur Phillip, along with 11 convict ships from Great Britain, first arrived in Sydney Cove. Sydney was established as a penal colony by the British. Sydney Harbour was already home to the indigenous Cadigal people and many of their ancestors and supporters view this day as a day of invasion or survival as nearly all of them were slain or wiped out by disease. This happened across the country. In early 2009 the Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd, apologised to indigenous Australians on behalf of the Australian government and Australia now embarks on the slow process of reconciliation. Australia Day could be seen as taking on a more unified meaning moving forward.
There are many activities on Australia Day to participate in around Sydney, a great deal of them are outdoors, family-friendly and free. You can find out what’s on by checking the links below closer to the date.
- Australia Day http://www.australiaday.org.au
- City of Sydney What’s On Guide http://whatson.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/
Easter is the most significant event in the Christian calendar. However, not all Australians are Christian nor celebrate this holiday for its religious context. There are 4.1 million people in Sydney, half of which do not identify as Christian.
What is very common during this holiday is the giving of chocolate eggs, rabbits and bilbys, particularly on Easter Sunday. Rabbits are a pest in Australia and so since 1994 there has been heavy campaigning to replace the Easter Rabbit with the Easter Bilby, which is native to Australia, and sadly endangered. Bilby’s look similar to rabbits, with long ears and are a similar size. Bakeries sell hot cross buns over the Easter period. Hot cross buns are sweet breads with sultanas, marked with a cross over the top.
Many Sydney people take advantage of the four day break and leave Sydney for a short holiday. Other people attend the Sydney Royal Easter Show, which is Australia’s largest event. It is an agricultural show where city people get a glimpse of country life. Farmers and rural communities showcase their crafts and livestock. There are also rides and performances. Some of the popular attractions are the nursery animals, the wood chopping competition and the pig diving.
- Easter in Australia http://australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/easter-in-australia
- Chocolate Bilbys http://www.easterbilby.com.au/save_bilby/chocolate.asp
- Sydney Royal Easter Show http://www.eastershow.com.au
ANZAC Day 25 April
ANZAC Day was initially a day commemorating the landing of Australian and New Zealand soldiers on the 25 April 1915 in Gallipoli, Turkey, during the First World War. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Today, ANZAC Day has a greater meaning and is a remembrance day for all that have lost their lives at war, and for Australians to reflect on the different meanings of war. Gatherings happen at war memorials around Sydney mostly at dawn with a piper playing Last Post. This is followed by marches through parts of the city by returned service people, and their families and friends. Wars that are remembered include more recently, the Vietnam War and Afghanistan.
ANZAC Day is the only day of the year it is legal to play the gambling game Two Up. Two Up is a heads or tails coin game. It is played within a large ring of people. It is a boisterous game, often with high stakes. You can see people play Two Up on the street and in venues across Sydney. It is quite a spectacle. Australian soldiers used to play this game which is why it is allowed on this commemorative day.
- ANZAC Day http://australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/anzac-day
- Two Up http://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/two_up
Queens Birthday (Date varies, see below)
In Australia, we commemorate the birthday of the United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth II. This is because Australia is part of the United Kingdom’s Commonwealth. Australia is becoming more independent and subsequently the English monarchy has less power or influence over Australian governance. Indeed, the English monarchy has little power here today and Queen Elizabeth II is seen as more of a figurehead rather than wielding any authority. The Queen is represented in Australia by a Governor General, currently Quentin Bryce. Most social commentators speculate this will be our last Governor General as we break our last ties with Britain and move towards a republic. There are no public or government organised celebrations for this day.
Bank Holiday (Date varies, see below)
The Bank Holiday is simply a day that the banks are not open for business.
Labour Day (Date varies, see below)
Labour Day commemorates the eight hour working day. Previously, there was no restriction to the amount of hours employees were made to work. The eight hour day began in Melbourne in the 1850’s.
Melbourne Cup 3 November
Not a public holiday in Sydney, but this event stops the entire nation. It is the Melbourne Cup, a horse race in Melbourne which lasts for just minutes. Many people leave work early and will watch the race which occurs early in the afternoon from one of the many crowded pubs in Sydney. Gambling on the race is popular too. People who do not normally gamble will place a bet on this race.
Christmas Day 25 December
For some Christians, this day is treated with religious reverence. For many people from all beliefs and backgrounds, Christmas Day is a day to give presents and to share a meal with those dearest to them. Unlike the cold and sometimes white Christmases in the northern hemisphere, Christmas in Sydney occurs at the peak of summer where the temperature hums at around 30 degrees. So, instead of warm, hearty meals like traditional Christmas roasts, meals for this day often consist of fresh seafood, salads and seasonal fruit.
Boxing Day 26 December
The meaning of this holiday has become obsolete and lost. Some believe people boxed items on this day to give to others less fortunate.
Public Holiday Dates
|New Years Day||Tuesday 1 January||Wednesday 1 January||Thursday 2 January|
|Australia Day||Monday 28 January (substitute day)||Monday 27 January (substitute day)||Monday 26 January|
|Good Friday||Friday 29 March||Friday 18 April||Friday 3 April|
|Easter Saturday||Saturday 30 March||Saturday 19 April||Saturday 4 April|
|Easter Monday||Monday 1 April||Monday 21 April||Monday 6 April|
|Anzac Day||Thursday 25 April||Friday 25 April||Saturday 25 April|
|Queens Birthday||Monday 10 June||Monday 9 June||Monday 8 June|
|Bank Holiday||Monday 5 August||Monday 4 August||Monday 3 August|
|Labour Day||Monday 7 October||Monday 6 October||Monday 5 October|
|Christmas Day||Wednesday 25 December||Thursday 25 December||Saturday 25 December|
|Boxing Day||Thursday 26 December||Friday 26 December||Monday 28 December (substitute day)|
Government website listing of public holidays in Sydney http://www.industrialrelations.nsw.gov.au/holidays.