January 26 is Australia Day, and at least half of Australia’s 21 million inhabitants stop to party.
The date officially marks the raising of the Union Jack flag at Sydney Cove by Captain Arthur Phillip, in 1788, when the First Fleet of convict ships arrived from Great Britain.
Although many celebrate with a mixture of organized community events, family and friends get-togethers, barbeques and fireworks, the day’s official celebrations are now celebrations of citizenship.
Although it’s a national holiday, Australia Day shouldn’t be confused with ANZAC Day, 25 April, which is an equally important national occasion.
The day has also been known as Foundation Day or Anniversary Day.
For those working with people in Australia, most will note little more than a day off (public holiday), particularly as Australian Schools are still in their summer recess.
However, it pays also to be aware that the day is contentious with Aboriginal communities, many of whom see the occasion as invasion rather than foundation, leading to alternative names for the day including Survival Day, Invasion Day or Day of Mourning.