National Days: Introduction

In Australia, as in most countries, certain national days are public holidays, often marked by very traditional activities. They commemorate events that have great significance to Australians, though sometimes not everyone knows the history of the events or feels strongly about them. Hundreds of years ago, in places such as England, public holidays were only held on important religious days, such as Sundays, Christmas Day or Easter Monday. They were the only holidays workers ever had, although of course they were expected to attend church services. When British settlers arrived in Australia, they continued this tradition, although things changed over the years. Other days, such as the Queen’s Birthday and Anzac Day were gradually added, which were important for non-religious reasons and involved different activities.

Overall Aim

After exploring this topic you will have learned about the significance of national days in Australia. You will have examined the activities that take place on these days and analysed the changes that have taken place in these days over the years. You will have thought about how people feel at these times and have become aware of your own thoughts and values about these special times in our society. You will apply your knowledge, values and perspectives when considering possible future developments in how one day is commemorated and make some positive suggestions about it.

Focus Question

What special days do we commemorate in Australia? What activities do people undertake on these days? What do they mean to Australian citizens? How have things changed over the years? How might they change in the future to the benefit of all Australians?  


In this investigation you will find out about how Australia’s most important national days are commemorated, in both formal and informal ways. You will investigate why these days are important, and how they have changed over the years. You will think about what these days mean to your family and community. Finally, you will be asked to consider how one national day might change in the future and suggest what could make this a positive thing for all citizens.


For the teacher | Introduction | Investigation | Review existing information | Report the findings | Taking Action | Evaluation and assessment | Resources