Wattle Day

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Woman buying wattle for Wattle Day, Sydney, 1935

Wattle Day is a national day of celebration in Australia on the first day of September,[1] that is also the first day of spring in the southern hemisphere. This is a time when many Acacia species (commonly called wattles in Australia), are in flower and people wear a sprig of the flowers and leaves to celebrate the day. Although the national floral emblem of Australia is a particular species called the golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha) any acacia is worn to celebrate the day.

History[edit]

The day was originally conceived as a day to demonstrate patriotism for the new nation of Australia by wearing a sprig of wattle. "Wattle Days emerged to prominence in Australia in the early years of the federated nation. They took on some of the national and civic responsibilities for children that Australia Day could not."[2]

Black wattle flower

On 1 December 1838, the first Hobart Town Anniversary Regatta was held in Hobart, Tasmania to celebrate the Tasmanian Anniversary of the 17th-century European discovery of the island by Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who made the first reported European sighting of the island on 24 November 1642.[3][4] It was decided that the annual anniversary regatta should be celebrated by the wearing of a sprig of silver wattle blossom tied with British Navy blue ribbon.[5] The proposal attracted some ridicule as the silver wattle blossomed in August and September and would be difficult to obtain in November.[6] As a result, the black wattle was substituted at the regatta. The custom of wearing a sprig of wattle at the regatta persisted until at least 1883.[7]

Cootamundra wattle

However the first recognised use of wattle as a symbol of the first day of spring was the formation in 1899 of a "Wattle Club" in Victoria by Mr A. J. Campbell, a field naturalist. For several years the club organised bush outings on the first day in September. The first suggestion of a Wattle Day was made by Mr Campbell during a speech in September 1908. The first Wattle Day was celebrated in 1910 in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.[8]

In 1913, the national Wattle Day League was established to organise the celebration of Wattle Day.[9] In 1916, NSW changed its Wattle Day to 1 August so that Cootamundra wattle could be used.[1]

Acacia pycnantha golden wattle

On 19 August 1988, the golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha) was officially proclaimed as Australia's national floral emblem by the then Governor-General, the Rt Hon Sir Ninian Stephen AK GCMG GCVO KBE.[9]

Four years later, 23 June 1992, Bill Hayden, the then the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, declared that "1 September in each year shall be observed as 'National Wattle Day' throughout Australia and in the external Territories of Australia".[10]

2010 was the centenary of the celebration of Wattle Day on 1 September 1910 in NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Panter, Rod. "Australia's Wattle Day". www.aph.gov.au. 
  2. ^ Nationalising Nature: Wattle Days in Australia, pge 6. Robin.L, 2002.
  3. ^ "About National Wattle Day". Wattle Day Association. Retrieved 19 August 2015. 
  4. ^ "THE REGATTA.". The True Colonist Van Diemen's Land Political Despatch, And Agricultural And Commercial... (800). Tasmania, Australia. 7 December 1838. p. 4. Retrieved 7 December 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  5. ^ "Classified Advertising.". The Hobart Town Courier (Tas. : 1827 - 1839). Tas.: National Library of Australia. 23 November 1838. p. 4. Retrieved 19 August 2015. 
  6. ^ "Domestic Intelligence.". Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 - 1857). Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 27 November 1838. p. 7. Retrieved 19 August 2015. 
  7. ^ "NATIONAL EMBLEM.". The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954). Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 21 August 1935. p. 3. Retrieved 19 August 2015. 
  8. ^ "Wattle Day Association". Archived from the original on 2007-08-29. Retrieved 2007-09-01. 
  9. ^ a b "National Floral Emblem" (PDF). It's an Honour. Government of Australia. Retrieved 19 August 2015. 
  10. ^ "Floral emblems of Australia". Australian National Botanic Gardens and Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research, Canberra. 30 April 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2015. 
  • Robin, Libby (January 2002). "Nationalising nature: Wattle days in Australia". Journal of Australian Studies. 26 (73): 13–26. doi:10.1080/14443050209387762.