Happy Anzac Day everyone!
It’s been a while since the last post, but I’m back today — April 25 — to commemorate Australia’s ‘most important national occasion.’ Anzac Day honors the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps who fought during the first military action during World War I. If you’re interested in knowing more, read this.
The day begins with a commemorative service at dawn (which, sadly, I slept through… you have to get up at 4:00 am to go, so maybe next year). These services are held throughout the country and are a formal opportunity to pay respects to more than 8,000 Anzacs who lost their lives after landing in Gallipoli in 1915.
Of course, the day quickly devolves from there into an afternoon and evening of drinking and I suspect a fair bit of debauchery.
For starters, on Anzac Day gambling is briefly legalized nationwide outside of casinos so that the Anzac’s favorite game, ‘two-up,’ can be played at all of the pubs. I’m told that it’s the game the Anzacs used to play in the ditches with each other to get money for their cigarettes. It involves placing wagers with the folks around you at the bar about whether or not two coins being flipped simultaneously by a person known as a spinner will result in two heads or two tails. When one of each turns up, it’s a draw and there is no winner.
It’s not exactly a complex or engaging game, but the Australians play it for hours and, in the particular version I saw at the Beresford Hotel, there was a drag queen announcing whether it was heads or tails that had just been thrown.
Add in a lot of drunken military men (who often drink for free if their in they’re wearing their sailor suits and medals), and it makes for an entertaining day.
Interestingly though, the Aussies do take the opportunity to pay their respects twice more during the day at noon and 6:00 p.m. sharp when no matter what bar you happen to be at, they stop everything for a moment of silence while playing a bugle call known as The Last Post.
I was surprised to learn that in addition to Anzac Day, Australians also celebrate Remembrance Day in November, which marks the anniversary of the armistice than ended World War I. We’ll see if it’s as wild and drunken as Anzac Day!