Anzac Day is just around the corner, and it’s a fantastic chance to delve into New Zealand’s history with the kids. It can be difficult to address the topic of war with your kids, but it is important for them to know just how important Anzac Day is, and why it should be commemorated. Families up and down the country will be celebrating this national day of remembrance, so we have put together some ideas for how you can honour our fallen heroes.
What is Anzac Day?
The date marks the anniversary of when the New Zealand and Australian soldiers first landed at the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. This massive military defeat saw thousands lose their lives, including 2779 New Zealand soldiers. While our small nation tragically suffered heavy losses, this event triggered a sense of pride in the determination of our soldiers, and we began to recognise ourselves as a country in our own right.
Today, Anzac Day commemorates all New Zealanders killed in war. It also honours our returned servicemen. It is a day steeped in tradition and heritage.
How Can You Celebrate?
A New Zealand Anzac Day is not complete without attending an Anzac parade. Almost every town will run their own parade, and the major centres have grand ceremonies to accompany the parade. There is nothing more rousing than hearing those bagpipes begin to play!
The idea behind baking on Anzac Day is to remember the foods that were sent to the soldiers on active duty from home. Anzac Cookies as we know them did not exist during the First World War. At that time they were a savoury crisp that was used as a substitute for bread. Today, we enjoy the sweet version. Try our recipe for delicious cookies every time!
The red poppy has become a symbol of war remembrance in many countries around the world. In New Zealand, it is very heavily associated with Anzac Day. Here are some great poppy crafts to try with the children...
Make a Wreath
Wreathes are often used as symbols of remembrance. You can make your own wreaths with the kids to commemorate our Anzacs. Here are two cool ideas...
· Leaf Wreath: Head out into the garden, or to the park and collect autumn leaves. Assemble them into a wreath to place on your local war memorial.
· Handprint Wreath: Trace around your children’s hands on green paper. Cut out the hand shapes and assemble them into a circular wreath shape. Decorate with your own handmade red poppies. Just like this one from Alessandra Morrone.
Write a Letter to a Soldier
There are New Zealand soldiers deployed in many places around the world. They are often in inhospitable places and become very homesick. News from home is very welcomed. One South Island teacher concocted a plan to get letters from home to NZ soldiers, so you can do the same!
Anzac Day is an important occasion that we should recognise annually. Try some of the above ideas with your children and let it encourage conversation about what Anzac Day might mean to them.