Wattle Day is a national day of celebration in Australia on the first day of September, 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.
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."
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. 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. The proposal attracted some ridicule as the silver wattle blossomed in August and September and would be difficult to obtain in November. 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.
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.
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.
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".
2010 was the centenary of the celebration of Wattle Day on 1 September 1910 in NSW, Victoria and South Australia.
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