Why the Poppies and Rosemary, and Other Burning Anzac Day Questions, Answered

Anzac Day

Anzac Day commemorates the anniversary of the Australian and New Zealand troops that landed at Gallipoli, Turkey on April 25, 1915. The date was the start of the major military action fought by our troops during World War I. Today, it’s a public holiday in Australia, New Zealand and Tonga.

Ahead, we answer all your burning questions about Anzac Day you might’ve always wanted to know. Plus, a few topics about the day you may’ve never questioned, but will now be glad you know about (trivia, anyone?).

When Is Anzac Day 2023? 

Firstly, what day is Anzac Day 2023? This year, in 2023, Anzac Day will fall on Tuesday, April 25. If you’ve read our annual leave hack story, you’ll have taken the Monday before off so that you can have a four-day holiday. Work will commence as usual on the Wednesday, though, so don’t get too carried away playing two-up.

Why Do We Celebrate Anzac Day? 

As mentioned, the date marks the anniversary of the day when around 20,000 Aussie and Kiwi soldiers (there were 70,000 soldiers total) landed on Gallipoli in 1915, as part of the Allies’ invasion. Their goal? To drive through to Istanbul, take Turkey out of the war and provide supplies to Russia in its fight against Germany.

Unfortunately, the invading troops failed to reach their objective and spent the next eight months clinging to the land they captured before eventually withdrawing.

“After both sides had suffered heavy casualties, the Allied forces were evacuated,” writes Austria’s embassy in a blog post. “It is estimated that 8,700 Australian and 2,700 New Zealanders were killed. One year later, in 1916, the first anniversary of the landing was observed in Australia, New Zealand and England and by troops in Egypt.”

It’s been celebrated ever since as “Anzac Day”, with its traditions underscored by themes of courage, endurance and mateship.

When Did Anzac Day Start in Australia?

The first Anzac Day was on April 25, 1915, when the Aussie and Kiwi troops landed. ‘Anzac Day’ has been commemorated by those in Australia, New Zealand and Tonga ever since.

What Is the Dress Code for Anzac Day? 

Because the day is a significant day of commemoration, it’s important you respect the dignity of the occasion, if you’re walking in a march or attending a dawn service. For either of those events, business attire is appropriate. You may also want to remember anyone close to you who you lost on Anzac Day or during other military activity by wearing a medal. Veterans and serving personnel will wear their decorations on the left chest.

Why Are There Poppies on Anzac Day? 

Poppies were recognised as the first living plant that sprouted from the battlefields of war — thereby becoming a flower symbolising remembrance, as well as hope for a peaceful future. They’re worn on Anzac Day and Remembrance Day as a symbol to remember the people who went to war and fought for their countries. They’re pinned to clothing and placed beside names on honour boards.

Why Do We Wear Rosemary on Anzac Day?

Rosemary is also worn on Anzac Day as it’s also a symbol of remembrance. It grows wild on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey, where the Australian and New Zealander soldiers landed in World War I. On Anzac Day, Australians often wear a small sprig of rosemary pinned to their coat lapel, near their heart or held in place by medals.

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