Australia Day kicked off Thursday, Jan. 26 and is the official national day of Australia.
“On Australia Day we come together as a nation to celebrate what’s great about Australia and being Australian. It’s the day to reflect on what we have achieved and what we can be proud of in our great nation. It’s the day for us to re-commit to making Australia an even better place for the future,” reads AustraliaDay.org.
The date commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788 and the raising of the Union Jack at Sydney Cove by Captain Arthur Phillip.
In 1788, a fleet of ships known as the First Fleet was sent from England to Australia to establish a colony after England lost the Thirteen colonies in North America. Sydney Cove became the spot.
Reportedly, the day has been celebrated since the early 1800s with the first official celebration in 1818. It’s since become the biggest annual civic event in Australia and is reportedly an official public holiday in every state and territory of Australia.
“Though 26 January marks this specific event, today Australia Day celebrations reflect contemporary Australia: our diverse society and landscape, our remarkable achievements and our bright future. It also is an opportunity to reflect on our nation’s history, and to consider how we can make Australia an even better place in future,” reads AustraliaDay.org.
During Australia Day, celebrators far and wide attend events in the day’s honor. Events include the Australian of the Year Awards on Australia Day Eve followed by the annual ferry boat procession. Other Australians celebrate by relaxing with family, throwing barbecues and enjoying fireworks.
While many celebrate, others dispute the day. The day was first met with controversy by those with indigenous heritage, who gave it other names including Invasion Day and Survival Day; to remember that their heritage still exists and hasn’t been wiped out completely.