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Australia Day 26 January: Other countries with controversial national days News Jani

Australia Day 26 January: Other countries with controversial national days

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key points:
  • Australia’s national day on January 26 is subject to controversy over what the birthday represents.
  • While some Australians are proud of the national day, First Nations people have rallied against the celebration.
  • From New Zealand to the United States, many countries around the world balance controversy with pride in their national days.
As January 26 approaches, discussions about Australia’s national holiday and the controversies surrounding it continue.
While some Australians see January 26 as a day of grief and mourning, others see the public holiday as a time to celebrate the country’s history and achievements.
Australia Day marks the date of 26 January 1788, when British captain Arthur Phillip led the first fleet to what is now Sydney Cove in NSW. He also raised the British flag for the first time.
But it is seen as the beginning of the brutal colonization of their land, and a symbolic reminder of the loss of their sovereignty, family and culture.

A growing indigenous-led movement has gathered momentum to change the date from January 26, while activist groups including Amnesty Australia have called for Australia Day to be scrapped altogether.

In recent years, thousands of people have participated in ‘Attack Day’ rallies across the country, while .

Here’s a look at how other countries celebrate their national days, what these holidays do and the controversies surrounding some other public celebrations.

What is the purpose of National Day?

Most countries around the world have an official national day, often celebrating a revolution or independence anniversary, but their commemorations vary according to their history, customs and culture.

Samantha Owen, a historian and researcher from Perth’s Curtin University, said national days were celebrated to remind people of their “concept of nationhood and the sense of what it represents”.

“For national holidays to be successful, they depend on consensus among those who are citizens, that the date chosen, and what is celebrated on that date, best represents that. What is our nation and what was hoped for,” she used to say.

Dominic O’Sullivan, a professor of comparative local politics and public policy at Charles Sturt University, said that while national days are supposed to be cause for celebration, they also “draw attention to what is good and bad about a state. do not have”.
“Whether they’re days of celebration, or whether they’re days of competition, or in many cases, a little bit of both, they raise the question, ‘What do we mean by nation’?” Professor O’Sullivan said.

So, what happens when the national day begins to be weaned from consensus?

Lessons from New Zealand’s Waitangi Day

New Zealand’s national day, Waitangi Day, is celebrated on February 6 each year.

People do haka on the beach.

A haka is performed on Te Tii Beach for traditional waka who paddle down the Waitangi River on Waitangi Day. Source: AAP / David Rowland

The date marks the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi between the British Crown and Maori chiefs on 6 February 1840.

Professor O’Sullivan said while the balance between celebration and protest could vary from year to year, depending on how Māori people felt about the government’s policy priorities of the day, Waitangi Day was Australia Day. is clearly different from

Professor O’Sullivan said, “I think the most important difference is that Australia Day marks the arrival of an uninvited political system, whereas Waitangi Day marks a treaty, which is a sign of those terms. Determines who will be settled.”
“Although many will argue that the debt covenant has not been respected, and the ways in which it should be respected today are debated, I think, the only fact is that to discuss There is an agreement for what makes Waitangi Day significantly different from Australia. day.”

While Waitangi Day “marks inclusion”, Professor O’Sullivan said Australia Day was seen as an event that marked a perceived and conscious Indigenous exclusion.

United States: July 4th

The United States celebrates its national day on July 4, when it officially adopted its Declaration of Independence from Great Britain in 1776.

As in Australia, Native American populations have expressed concern about how a day celebrating independence glosses over colonial rule and the struggle that followed for independence.

People are holding the American flag.

People hold parades to commemorate the Fourth of July holiday in the United States. Source: Getty / Daniel Knighton

Parallels can be drawn between Australia’s national day and the US, but Dr Owen said we had a “quite unique story” compared to other countries around the world.

While America celebrates Independence Day, Australia celebrates the establishment of a penal colony.

Spain: Fiesta National

Spain’s fiesta Nacional is a day of military parades and processions in the capital, Madrid, on October 12, to recognize the date Italian explorer Christopher Columbus set foot in the Americas in 1492.
The day is celebrated throughout Latin America, with each country giving it a different name, but the day is often used to celebrate and remember a country’s indigenous population before Spanish colonization.

For example, in Venezuela, the day is known as the Day of Indigenous Resistance, in Bolivia it is celebrated as Decolonization Day, and in Mexico as the Day of the Multicultural Nation.

Women's protest march.

Indigenous Venezuelan women take part in a march commemorating Indigenous Resistance Day in Caracas. Source: AFP, Getty / Federico Parra

In America, the second Monday of October is celebrated as Columbus Day. But Native American populations have been protesting the monument since the 1970s, and many states now celebrate it. Also, or rather, Columbus Day on this date.

National Day of the People’s Republic of China

On October 1, China celebrates the anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 when revolutionaries led by Mao Zedong defeated the Chinese Nationalist government.

Celebrations are underway in mainland China for what is described as ‘Golden Week’, where citizens enjoy a seven-day public holiday. Macau gets two days off while Hong Kong has one.

Riot police officers moved in to arrest the protesters as the protesters attacked them with petrol bombs.

Protesters are met by riot police as they march in Hong Kong on the morning of China’s National Day on October 1, 2019. Source: Getty / Sopa Images

In recent years, Chinese dissidents and allies critical of the Chinese Communist Party in Hong Kong and around the world have used the day to protest against the state party.

From Tokyo to Istanbul, from Sydney to Vienna, people used the day to acknowledge allegations of human rights abuses against Uyghurs and Tibetans, as well as Hong Kong’s democracy.
In 2019, Hong Kong saw police attempt to contain tens of thousands of people spilling onto the region’s streets amid ongoing pro-democracy protests.

In 2020, Hong Kong’s National Security Law came into effect and local police have banned any demonstrations on October 1.

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