Christian holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, are among the most widely observed. Labor Day is recognized in every state and territory, however the date varies. There are two notable national days: Australia Day (January 26) and Anzac Day (April 25), both of which are national public holidays. These are followed by Victoria's Birthday (February 21), Queen's Birthday (June 2), Australia Women's Day (March 8), Father's Day (Third Sunday in March), Good Friday (Friday before Easter Monday), Easter Monday (the first weekday after Easter Saturday).
Other significant dates include May Day (labour celebrations worldwide), Aboriginal Day (First Nations people around Australia), Chocolate Week (celebrations during the last seven days of February), Constitution Hill Memorial Day Service (commemorates those who fought for Australian independence from Britain), Anzac Day (honouring all Australians who served or continue to serve their country), and Youth Day (third Monday in October).
There are several terms used interchangeably with "public holiday" in Australia. They are as follows: public holiday, statutory holiday, school holiday, bank holiday, and Christmas holiday.
Some states and territories have a long list of local public holidays, while others have very few if any. Some common ones not mentioned here include Armistice Day (November 11), Labour Day (May 1), Victoria Derby Day (early April), and Whit Monday (late March/early April).
New Year's Day, Australia Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Anzac Day, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day are our national public holidays. All other public holidays, including as the Queen's Birthday and Labour Day, are declared by individual state and territory administrations. Some public holidays may not be observed nationally, such as Christchurch Memorial Day.
Australia has a long history of celebrating events and people important to our culture and heritage. These holidays mark significant dates in Australian history when large groups of people would have had time off work to enjoy some rest and relaxation.
These holidays vary from state to state, but most remain the same as what we know today with one exception: New South Wales does not have a Public Holiday Act so all state government offices are closed on Good Friday.
All over Australia, public schools will be closed on Australia Day (26 January) and in some states public schools also close on other public holidays. In addition, all state governments provide some form of public holiday pay for employees who work on these days. The amount paid varies from state to state but is usually between 10-20 percent of ordinary wages.
In Queensland, Victoria, and Western Australia, Australia Day is a public holiday; however, South Australia uses the March 23 date instead. In Tasmania, Australia Day is a non-public holiday.
For religious occasions Christmas is one of the most important dates in the Christian calendar, and it is commemorated throughout Australia with several church services beginning on Christmas Eve and lasting until Christmas Day. Australia is a country of immigrants, and they have brought with them a diverse range of religious beliefs. Thus, churches in Australia will often celebrate Christmas to attract people who are looking for spiritual comfort during this time of year.
For public holidays Christmas is one of five official public holidays in Australia. The other four days are Anzac Day (25 April), Labour Day (1 May), Queen's Birthday (10 June) and Oz Day (12 October).
During Christmas time there are many festive events held across Australia. These include fireworks displays, parades, and concerts.
In New South Wales there is an annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony held at Sydney's Martin Place. The tradition began in 1872 when a Scottish immigrant named John Hardy planted a eucalyptus tree in his garden. To this day, thousands of trees are planted around Australia for this event.
Another popular celebration is called "The Big Day Out", which is a large-scale outdoor festival that has been going on every year since 1991 in various cities around Australia. The name comes from the fact that it is the first full day of the summer holiday period in Australia.