Anzac Day in 2021: How You Can Commemorate and Celebrate the Public Holiday

Anzac Day is one of Australia’s most important national occasions, and a time when we can reflect and honour those who have given their lives for our country. The event, which falls on April 25th each year, is marked with many commemorative services and memorials to remember those who have served or lost their lives in war. It is also a public holiday, giving time for us all to observe the special day and spend time with our loved ones.

In these uncertain times, it’s difficult to predict what COVID rules and regulations may be in place on Anzac Day 2021. But there are still many ways you can plan ahead to observe and celebrate this public holiday with your loved ones. Here are some ideas from our team.

Attend a dawn service

If you can start your day early, attending the Dawn Service at 4:30am is one of the most special ways you can commemorate the public holiday. Occurring at the first light of dawn, the Dawn Service marks both the time that soldiers first approached Gallipoli beach as well as the ‘stand-to’ This was the time that soldiers would be awakened while fighting at Gallipoli, ready to be position, awake and alert, in case of an enemy attack in the morning’s half light. The ‘stand-to’ ritual is an important memory for many war veterans and one of Anzac Day’s primary commemorative events.

The Dawn Service is a public ceremony, typically marked with a march by veterans and military personnel towards a war memorial. Members of the public community follow this march, and then a short service is conducted at the war memorial with prayers, hymns, and a special dedication. After this, the Last Post is played – which is the bugle call that marks the end of a day at war – followed by a minute’s silence and the Reveille, which marks the beginning of a day at war. Then there is another short address and then the hymn Recession is sung, followed by a prayer and the national anthem.

Dawn Services are held across the country, near war memorials. If you are unable to attend in person, you can listen to the service on SBS radio.

Attend a Gunfire Breakfast

Following the Dawn Service, many RSLs, war memorials, and pubs host a traditional Gunfire Breakfast in commemoration. The term refers to the morning cup of tea served to soldiers – usually with a shot of rum – alongside whatever they could eat for breakfast at the time. The ‘gunfire’ shot of rum was added to give soldiers a dash of liquid courage before going out on the battlefield. Today, a Gunfire Breakfast typically includes coffee or tea laced with rum and served with a simple breakfast of bacon and eggs. If you can’t find a Gunfire Breakfast event near you, why not mark the occasion by having your own at home?

Attend the Anzac Day march

In the morning, after the Dawn Service, there is a larger ceremony marked by ex-servicemen and women marching through major cities and some towns in Australia. Anzac Day marches are less formal than the Dawn Service but still have many of the same rituals and traditions, including hymns, prayers, recitation, a minute’s silence, and the playing of the Last Post and the Reveille. There is also laying of the wreaths, and after the ceremony, families often place red poppies beside the names of fallen soldiers from their family on the Roll of Honour.

Attending the Anzac Day march is a special way to commemorate our fallen soldiers, and also an opportunity to take your children along to a ‘parade’ and teach them about the country’s history.

Visit the war memorial

If waking up at dawn is not something you can do on a public holiday – and that’s understandable – you can still commemorate and remember our fallen soldiers by attending a war memorial and spending some time in reflective peace and solitude. You can read the names of soldiers marked on the walls, educate your children on the notions of war and peace and fighting for our country, and take a minute’s silence to commemorate our soldiers.

Have a grand Anzac Day lunch

Anzac Day isn’t all about formality and remembrance. After the morning services, many pubs, restaurants, and RSL clubs host grand lunches. This is a way to make the most of the public holiday and cherish the freedom we enjoy as a country today. You can attend a formal lunch or host your own. Invite your friends and family to gather together and enjoy some of Australia’s favourite traditions and foods. Go out in our beautiful nature and have a BBQ by the beach or in a park under the sun. The last days of April are some of our last days of warmth before winter creeps in. Some typical foods enjoyed on Anzac Day include sausages, roast lamb with rosemary (a special herb on Anzac Day), and Anzac biscuits for dessert.

Play two-up

Another traditional way to celebrate Anzac Day is by heading to your local pub for a game of two-up. This is a gambling game which is only legally played on Anzac Day. It’s a great way to go out and have some fun while also trying to score a bit of cash! Two-up is played by tossing two coins in the air and placing a bet on whether it’ll land on heads or tails. Trust us, it’s more fun than it sounds. If you haven’t played before, this is one of the best ways to pass an afternoon on Anzac Day. Drop by your local pub and have a go!

Want help hosting an Anzac Day lunch or Gunfire Breakfast?

Why not hire a private chef to cook for you and your family on the public holiday? You choose the location – beach, park, or venue – and we’ll turn up with everything we need to get cooking. Whether it’s a large party or a small family affair, our private chefs can create an Anzac Day menu that pays tribute to Australia’s great cuisines. Get in touch with our team and let’s plan your Anzac Day feasts and festivities now.