Wattle Day 2023: Wattle Day is celebrated annually on September 1 to usher in (Australian) spring. This day marks the beginning of spring in Australia, a time when the ‘acacia’ species (commonly known as the wattle in Australia) produces an abundance of flowers. However, this was not the original intent of this day. The purpose of Wattle Day was to promote and strengthen patriotism in the then-new nation of Australia.
THE HISTORY OF LABOUR DAY
Wattle Day can be traced back to Tasmania in the 1800s, when the first Hobart Town Anniversary Regatta was conducted. The island was commemorating the anniversary of its discovery by the Dutch by beginning a procession beneath a wattle-flowered arch. In subsequent regattas, they even suggested the audience wear a sprig of silver wattle blossom. This tradition persisted until 1883, when it was replaced by the black wattle, which was more commonly grown during the celebration’s month.
From the 1860s to the early 1900s, literature and poetry praised the wattle, and people danced wattle waltzes and sipped wattle beer. During this time, there was a drive to recognise the wattle as Australia’s national flower, which was bolstered by the establishment of the ‘Wattle Club’ in Victoria. Founded by Archibald James Campbell, an ornithologist and field naturalist with a passion for Australian wattles, this club organised excursions for wattle appreciation in September. He was also one of the first persons to propose a special day to honour Australia’s most well-known flower. This fascination only grew in the years following the war and lasted until the 1930s, when it began to wane.
Approximately fifty years later, green and gold were designated as Australia’s national colours, and interest in wattles increased once more. In 1910, a Wattle Day League was established in response to the resurgence of support for establishing a special day to honour the wattle. This Sydney-based league, led by J. H. Maiden, director of the Sydney Botanic Gardens, sought to present a unified proposal to various state governments for the establishment of Wattle Day. As the beginning of spring in Australia, the league designated September 1 as Wattle Day and established multiple branches across the country. Since that year, prominent Australian cities have held annual celebrations. Different localities selected dates between July and September for this celebration. However, the celebration continued to expand.
Even during the First World War, when wattle branches were sold to raise funds for organisations such as the Red Cross, support for Wattle Day persisted. Traditionally, disabled soldiers were sent letters containing pressed wattles. In 1982, environmentalist Maria Hitchcock, also known as “The Wattle Lady,” launched a campaign to revive and officially recognise Wattle Day. She also intended to get the Acacia pycnantha officially recognised as Australia’s National Floral Emblem. Ian McNamara of ABC assisted her in soliciting letters of support from hundreds of Australians. Ms. Hitchcock was informed after the official ceremony to gazette the Floral Emblem that she must personally obtain letters of consent from all of Australia’s Premiers and Chief Ministers. Within three years of re-requesting Ian McNamara’s assistance, she received approval letters for the proclamation of Wattle Day.
The first of September has been designated as National Wattle Day in Australia and its external Territories since 1992.
5 AMUSING FACTS ABOUT THE WAR
In Australia, acacias are known as wattles due to the belief that the plant’s stem was used to construct wattles (also known as interlaced rods) in early dwellings.
The wattle sprig depicted on the official emblem of the Commonwealth of Australia is botanically inaccurate, as the spherical flowers and green foliage do not accurately depict the plant.
It is also resistant to droughts, cyclones, and bushfires.
This plant is considered a contaminant in South Africa, Tanzania, Italy, Portugal, Sardinia, India, Indonesia, and New Zealand.
The official victory anthem of the Australian cricket team includes the lyrics, “Under the Southern Cross I stand, a wattle sprig in my hand, a native of my native land, Australia, you beauty!”
WE ARE PARTICIPATING IN SPRING
To people around the world, spring represents beauty, new life, fecundity, optimism, and colour, among other things. Wattle Day encourages us to eagerly anticipate and enthusiastically celebrate this season.
Wattle Day celebrates a species of flora, so it stands to reason that by commemorating this day, we foster an appreciation for nature. In addition, we are expanding our environmental knowledge and (presumably) maturing as conservationists.
Numerous Australian households host low-key, uncomplicated celebrations as the day’s unique selling proposition. A modest event can be just as entertaining and, at times, even more intimate and personal than a large one.
WATTLE DAY DATES