As well as being the official start of Spring in the Southern Hemisphere, the 1st of September is a day of celebration in Australia, known as National Wattle Day. Wattle Day has been celebrated since the early 1900’s (with origins dating back to the early 1800’s). In 1992, it was declared that “1 September in each year shall be observed as ‘National Wattle Day’ throughout Australia and in the external Territories of Australia”.
Spring is a time when many wattles (acacias) are blossoming, and people often 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 wattle can be worn to celebrate the day. Wattle is seen as a unique and quintessential Australian symbol.
Perhaps Dr Rod Panter summed it up best when he wrote in 1997 that: “Wattle and Wattle Day can symbolise virtually anything we want, but they relate generally to Spring, being Australian, the Australian environment, and history. Spring has many positive values such as optimism, bounty and abundance, reliability, colour, new life and so on. We can celebrate our ‘Australianness’ on Wattle Day in quite a different way from ANZAC Day, which in recalling past wars glorifies Australian qualities of courage and mateship. Wattle Day, by contrast, looks forward (to Spring) and can celebrate the nation’s undoubted qualities of good humour, fairness, generosity, informality and democracy.”