April 25th is ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) Day in Australia, the second biggest holiday after Australia Day. This day pays tribute to the soldiers of Australia and New Zealand (and some Pacific island nations) who fought at Gallipoli in Turkey during WWI against the Ottoman Empire. The day also honours the country’s veterans and soldiers in service overseas and at home.
Early in the morning on ANZAC Day, Australians gather at candlelit dawn services all over the country to mark the occasion. And once the dawn service is out of the way, the tone of the day changes dramatically. On Remembrance Day, Canadians file away from the ceremonies dressed in dark clothes, a sea of solemnity and red poppies. On ANZAC Day, Australians disperse to “raise a glass” for ANZAC.
I attended an ANZAC day BBQ, where the orders of the day included a blind beer tasting competition before lunch and a fiercely competitive game of Two-Up in the back alley.
Two-Up is another ANZAC Day tradition. To play, you place bets on whether 2 pennies being tossed will come up heads, tails or both.
This gambling game was often played by soldiers during WWI. However, Two-Up is illegal to play in Australia every other day of the year.
So we spent the afternoon yelling at coins in a back alley. Then back to the drinks.
After all, those glasses weren’t going to raise themselves to the veterans and the troops overseas.