Sunday, April 25, 2010

Anzac Day

It's Anzac day today – April 25. Anzac stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps that was formed in 1914 to fight in WWI. April 25 marks the anniversary of the corps first big military action in Gallipoli. Aussies also celebrate Remembrance Day on November 11, like Canadians, but not with the same exuberance as Anzac day. Remembrance Day isn't a national holiday and they don't have a march, just a ceremony and 2 minutes silence, whereas Anzac day is a national holiday and there are 2 ceremonies, a march plus lots of drinking and gambling afterwards!

The day starts with a Dawn Service where the keeners gather at the cenotaph at 5:30 in the morning, have a service and then go to the RSL (Retired Service League - big fancy club) for breakfast and beers. Then at 11:00 there is a march down Main Street and another service at the cenotaph for the rest of the population. Then the families go home but many adults go back to the RSL, or their favourite pub, to drink a toast to the dead diggers and play 2-up in their honour.

2-up is a gambling game the diggers used to play that is now only legal on Anzac day. It involves everyone standing around in a circle with one person in the middle holding a flat wooden paddle with 3 coins on it. Before that person flips the coins in the air everyone places bets with the people near them as to if the majority of coins will come up heads or tails. The coins are tossed, the winners cheer and collect their money and the game continues. After the flipper has had a few turns somebody else is chosen to flip. It is quite exciting when you get into the spirit of it. Good fun.

It's so typically Australian. Instead of being quiet and respectful for the fallen, they drink and gamble in their honour. Gotta love it.

1 comment:

  1. Now i am laughing again. But in a different way. Sorry, more like laughing at you then with you.
    So there you go, no matter how silly, when we do it ourselves, it seems somehow okay.
    Well i do kind of realize i am a little nuts, living in 37 below, no matter going swimming in that temperature.
    indeed, you gotta love it