Commemorate ANZAC Day the Australian Way

When you see people wearing red poppies on the street, biscuits wrapped in national flag print in Coles and Woolworths, silver-headed men wearing medals at a march, and “Lest We Forget” banners everywhere, you know it’s ANZAC day in Australia. Newly arrived in Australia as an international student a few years ago, I was quite bewildered by the word “ANZAC” and the only thing I knew about it was I got one day off Uni. 

When you’re in Rome, do as the Romans do. Now I know that the term “ANZAC” is the acronym for Australian and New Zealand Arm Corps, and ANZAC Day is on 25 April every year to commemorate the first major military campaign by Australian and New Zealand troops during the First World War. Here are some interesting traditions that Australians do on ANZAC Day:

1.      Dawn Services

Start your ANZAC day with a Dawn services at Martin Place in Sydney where thousands gather in the early morning (4:30am) to mourn and honour the fallen soldiers with a catafalque contingent, an Ode of Remembrance, Last Post bugle call, a minute's silence, a Reveille played on a bugle and the laying of wreaths.

The tradition can trace back to the 1920s and it’s held at various locations across the country and cities.

To go to Dawn Services at Martin Place, please see or head down to your local Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL) for a service closer to you

2.      ANZAC Biscuits

There is an interesting story behind the ANZAC biscuits:

The mothers, wives and girlfriends of Australian troops were concerned that their boys weren't getting enough nutritional value and so came up with a recipe for biscuits, using rolled oats as a base. It’s nowadays called ANZAC biscuits.

3.   Two-up: A favourite Australian tradition on Anzac Day

Head to a local pub or RSL to play Two-up and share a beer with friends, veterans and other members of the community. Two-up is a traditional gambling game where a 'Spinner' flips two coins into the air and players gamble on how they'll fall. Two heads up means the Spinner wins, two tails means the Spinner loses, one of each and the Spinner throws again with a cry of “Come in Spinner!” before each spin.

It’s against law to gamble outside of a licensed gambling venue in Australia, but there are certain allowances for Two-up on ANZAC Day in each state and territory. Please note that players must be over 18 years of age and any profits must be donated to charity.


To learn more about the Australian Traditions on ANZAC Day, please read