ANZAC Day: Learn English through Language Activities

Apr 22, 2023
Wall of Remembrance

History of ANZAC Day

ANZAC Day is a day of remembrance that honours the sacrifices made by soldiers who fought and died in wars and conflicts. Its origins date back to World War I, specifically the Gallipoli campaign in 1915.



Why is this day special to Australians?

On 25 April 1915 the ANZAC army took control on the Gallipoli Peninsula and reopened the Dardanelles for all allies. The goal was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul) in Turkey. In Gallipoli the ANZAC troops encountered a brutal resistance from Ottoman Turkish defense forces. Immediately the Turkish government's strategy was deemed unconstitutional and the war lasted 8 months. In 1915, the Allies evacuated their forces. Both sides were severely damaged.

The First ANZAC Day

On April 25, 1916, the first ANZAC Day was observed in Australia and New Zealand. It was a day to remember the soldiers who fought and died at Gallipoli, and it quickly became an important day of national remembrance.

What does ANZAC Day mean today?

Anzac Day also commemorates the death of Australian soldiers and civilians killed during WWII. This Anzac Day commemorates Australian soldiers killed during a military operation.

ANZAC's role in World War I

ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, and during World War I, this joint force fought alongside the British Empire against the Ottoman Empire in the Gallipoli campaign. Although the campaign was ultimately unsuccessful, it remains an important part of Australia and New Zealand's military history.

On 25 April 1915 Australian soldiers landed at what is now called ANZAC Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula. For the vast majority of the 16,000 Australians and New Zealanders who landed on that first day, this was their first experience of combat. By that evening, 2000 of them had been killed or wounded.

The Significance of ANZAC Day in Australian and New Zealand Culture

ANZAC Day has become a significant day of national remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, with ceremonies, parades, and other events held in cities and towns across both countries. It is a day to honour and remember the sacrifices made by those who served in the armed forces, and to reflect on the impact of war on individuals, families, and communities.

ANZAC Day has become an important part of the cultural identity of both Australia and New Zealand, with its own unique traditions, symbols, and rituals. Through the observance of ANZAC Day, the people of Australia and New Zealand pay tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of their soldiers and ensure that their legacy is not forgotten.

The History of Two-Up

As ANZAC Day approaches, many Australians and New Zealanders look forward to playing the popular game of Two-Up. This traditional game has been associated with ANZAC Day since World War I and is often played in pubs and other venues across both countries on the day.

Origin of Two-Up

Two-Up has its roots in the gold rush era of the mid-19th century, when miners brought the game with them to Australia from England. The game quickly became popular and was played in mining towns across the country. It involves tossing two coins onto a board or "kip" and betting on the outcome.

Significance on ANZAC Day

During World War I, Two-Up became a favourite pastime of Australian soldiers. It was often played in the trenches and on troop ships, providing a brief respite from the horrors of war. Today, playing Two-Up on ANZAC Day is seen as a way of honouring the soldiers who fought and died for their country.

How to Play Two-Up

To play Two-Up, players stand around a "kip" which is a flat wooden surface about the size of a small table. The "Spinner" tosses two coins in the air, and players bet on whether the coins will land both heads, both tails, or one of each. The game continues until someone wins or loses all their money. It's a simple game that is easy to learn and is a fun way to get into the ANZAC Day spirit.

Korean and Vietnam Medals

The Korean and Vietnam Wars were significant conflicts in which ANZAC troops played an important role. ANZAC soldiers fought alongside American and South Korean forces in the Korean War, which lasted from 1950 to 1953. Meanwhile, in the Vietnam War, which lasted from 1962 to 1972, ANZAC soldiers fought alongside American forces against the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong.

The role of ANZAC troops in these wars is honoured through the awarding of medals to those who served. The Korean War Service Medal and the Vietnam War Service Medal were awarded to ANZAC troops who served in those conflicts. These medals serve as a tangible symbol of the sacrifice and bravery of the ANZAC soldiers who served in these wars.

It's worth noting that many ANZAC veterans who served in the Vietnam War felt that they were not properly recognized or supported upon returning home. Over time, however, attitudes towards veterans of the Vietnam War have changed, and they are now recognised for their service and sacrifice. 

Traditions and Symbols

The Last Post Ceremony

One of the most moving traditions on ANZAC Day is the Last Post ceremony. At dusk, buglers play the Last Post, a bugle call that was traditionally used to signal the end of the day's activities in the military. It's now played as a tribute to those who have died in service.

The Ode of Remembrance

The Ode of Remembrance is a poem that is recited during ANZAC Day ceremonies. It was written by Laurence Binyoin 1914 and is a tribute to soldiers who have died in war. The most famous line of the poem is "They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old".

The Red Poppy

The red poppy is a symbol of remembrance for those who have died in war. It was first used as a symbol of remembrance after World War I, when fields in Flanders, Belgium, were covered in poppies. Today, people wear red poppies on ANZAC Day to show their respect and gratitude for the sacrifices made by soldiers.

The ANZAC Biscuit

The ANZAC biscuit is a sweet treat that has become a symbol of ANZAC Day. The biscuit was first made during World War I by women who wanted to send a homemade treat to their loved ones serving in the military. The biscuits are made with rolled oats, coconut, and golden syrup, and were designed to last for a long time without going stale. Today, ANZAC biscuits are often sold at ANZAC Day events and are a popular way to honour and remember the sacrifices made by soldiers. The best ANZAC biscuit recipe of all time.


Our Most Northern Border

ANZAC Day isn't just about reflecting on the past; it's also about honouring the present. In recent years, ANZAC troops have been deployed to East Timor, an independent country located to the north of Australia. This deployment was part of a United Nations peacekeeping mission, and ANZAC troops were instrumental in bringing stability to the region.

ANZAC Troops in East Timor

In 1999, violence broke out in East Timor following a vote for independence from Indonesia. The violence was widespread and indiscriminate, and the United Nations called for a peacekeeping mission to be sent in to help bring order to the region. ANZAC troops were part of this mission, and they played a crucial role in restoring stability to the area.

The Role of ANZAC Troops in Peacekeeping

ANZAC troops are highly respected around the world for their expertise in peacekeeping missions. They are known for their professionalism, discipline, and dedication to the task at hand. The role of ANZAC troops in peacekeeping missions is to help maintain peace and stability in areas affected by conflict. This can involve a range of tasks, including providing security, helping with reconstruction efforts, and facilitating political negotiations.


How ANZAC Day is Observed Today

ANZAC Day has evolved into a significant day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, with a range of observances taking place in both countries and beyond. Here are some of the ways ANZAC Day is observed today:

Public Holiday in Australia and New Zealand

ANZAC Day is a public holiday in both Australia and New Zealand, with many businesses and public services closed for the day. This provides an opportunity for people to attend commemorative events and reflect on the sacrifices made by the ANZACs.

Dawn Services and ANZAC Day Marches

One of the most significant ways ANZAC Day is observed is through Dawn Services and ANZAC Day Marches. Dawn Services are held across Australia and New Zealand, often at the same time as the landing at Gallipoli. These services typically include a wreath-laying ceremony, the Last Post bugle call, and a minute of silence.

ANZAC Day marches are also held in major cities and towns across Australia and New Zealand, allowing veterans, their families, and the wider community to come together to honour and remember the sacrifices of the ANZACs. The marches are led by veterans, and members of the public are welcome to participate.


Observance by Australians and New Zealanders living overseas

ANZAC Day is also observed by Australians and New Zealanders living overseas, with Dawn Services and commemorative events held in cities around the world. For many expatriates, ANZAC Day is a way to stay connected with their homeland and pay their respects to those who have served their country.



ANZAC Day is a significant day of remembrance for Australians and New Zealanders. It is an opportunity for both countries to honour and remember the sacrifices made by the ANZAC troops who fought and died for their countries. The day also serves as a reminder of the impact of war and the importance of peace.

Through this article, we have explored the history of ANZAC Day and how it has evolved over time. We have also learned about the various traditions and symbols associated with ANZAC Day, such as the Last Post ceremony, the Ode of Remembrance, the Red Poppy, and the ANZAC Biscuit.

It is essential that we continue to observe ANZAC Day as a way to preserve our history and to honour the brave men and women who have fought for our countries. By reflecting on the sacrifices made by ANZAC troops, we can develop a deeper appreciation for the freedoms and opportunities we have today.

On ANZAC Day, take the time to attend a dawn service or ANZAC Day march, or simply take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices made by ANZAC troops. Let us show our gratitude and appreciation towards those who have fought for our countries, and may we never forget the sacrifices they have made.


Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) that readers may have at this point:

Q: What is the difference between ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day?

A: ANZAC Day commemorates the landing of Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli during World War I, while Remembrance Day is a day to remember all those who have served and died in wars and conflicts.

Q: Do people still celebrate ANZAC Day?

A: Yes, ANZAC Day is still widely celebrated in Australia and New Zealand, with many attending dawn services, parades, and other commemorative events.

Q: Why is the poppy a symbol of ANZAC Day?

A: The poppy is a symbol of remembrance because it was one of the only plants that grew on the battlefields of Flanders during World War I. The red poppy has since become a symbol of remembrance for those who have served and died in wars and conflicts.

Q: What is the significance of the Last Post and the Ode of Remembrance?

A: The Last Post is a bugle call that has been used in military funerals since the 19th century. The Ode of Remembrance is a poem that is recited at ANZAC Day services as a tribute to those who have served and died in wars and conflicts.

Q: What is the ANZAC Biscuit?

A: The ANZAC Biscuit is a sweet biscuit made with rolled oats, flour, coconut, sugar, butter, golden syrup, bicarbonate of soda, and boiling water. It has a long history dating back to World War I, when they were sent by women to soldiers serving overseas.

Q: Are there any restrictions on how ANZAC Day can be celebrated?

A: Yes, there are laws in place that regulate how ANZAC Day can be observed, including restrictions on the use of the word "ANZAC" and guidelines for the display of the Australian and New Zealand flags. Additionally, it is considered disrespectful to use ANZAC Day as a marketing or promotional opportunity.

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