Every nation has its own traditions, but Australia seems to have as many as every other nationality put together. Perhaps it is because it is so remote from every other country apart from New Zealand, so it has trodden its own path.
Here, we have picked out some Australian traditions that could well take off around the world, if they were only given a chance. You’ll notice that most of them demonstrate the Australian sense of fun and community.
Muck up day is a highlight for students
A bit of end-of term fun is always welcome, but the 10,000 or so international students who study in Australia are always intrigued by muck up day. Celebrated by the departing Year 12 students on the last day of term, it traditionally involves tricks and pranks involving such time-honored ingredients as toilet rolls, balloons and water.
As you can imagine, there is the potential for things to get out of control, but instead of prohibition, most schools take a collaborative approach. They tend to work alongside students to organize celebratory events to keep everything in the right spirit. These include communal breakfasts or barbecues, special assemblies, even car shows for students to show off their wheels.
Yabby Racing demonstrates the Australian love for a bet
There is a well-worn cliché that in Australia, if two flies are climbing up a wall, people will start placing bets on which will be first to the top. Like most cliches, it is based in truth, and Australians wager almost $1,000 per capita every year, more than any other nationality. Now admittedly, most of that is on pokies, which are the local term for slot games. There is plenty of information about Australian online casinos elsewhere, and you can check it out here.
Closer to the “two flies” legend, though is Yabby Racing. Yabbies are freshwater crustaceans like lobsters or crayfish, and the annual races are without doubt the biggest event in Windorah, a small town in a remote part of Queensland, each year. Held at the rough and ready Western Star Hotel, the racing attracts more than a thousand spectators and is broadcast nationally. The rules are simple. A chalk circle is drawn on the ground and the yabbies placed in the centre. Whichever gets a claw to the outer circle first is pronounced the winner. Betting is keen and the four races each raise a lot of money for good causes.
Anzac day and biscuit baking
VIDEO: What is Anzac Day?
Every nation has its own special day to mourn and pay respect to its fallen soldiers, but there is something particularly poignant about Anzac Day, which falls on April 25th. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and the day commemorates the ANZAC landings on the beaches of Gallipoli in 1915. Like other such memorial days, ANZAC day also remembers soldiers lost in more recent campaigns. ANZAC day is a moment to reflect on values like loyalty and camaraderie.
As well as the usual prayers and parades, an interesting ANZAC day tradition is for Australians to bake ANZAC biscuits. Their oat base meant they would last a long time, and families sent them in parcels to soldiers on the front line.
Christmas on the beach
Being in the southern hemisphere means Christmas comes in the middle of a long hot summer. As a result, Australia has adopted its very own Yuletide traditions. For example, instead of sitting down to a heavy meal, families gather at the beach or the park for a barbecue. Prawns, oysters and other seafood are popular.
Some overseas influences have found there way into the Aussie Christmas, however. For example, the red woolen “Santa hats” are still associated with the festivities even though they are completely inappropriate to the Australian climate, especially at Christmas. It is fun to see how they have become “Aussiefied.” For example, Christmas cards might depict koalas and kangaroos wearing their Santa hats with pride.
Everyone loves to throw a thong
Let’s finish with another festive tradition, and one so silly it could only be Australian. Before we say anything else, we should explain that in Australia a thong is the name for a flip flop, so this is a family-friendly activity.
Traditionally played on Boxing Day, December 26, thong throwing involves the participants standing behind a line, kicking off their thongs and throwing them as far as possible. The farthest flung thong earns the winner everyone’s respect, and some prize that is appropriately silly for the event.
So there we have it. Australians have some fabulous traditions, most of which are fun, although some, like ANZAC day, are very serious. All of them serve to bring families, communities and the nation together, and that can only be a good thing.