What is Wattle Day?
Wattles have long had special meanings for Australians and in 1988 the Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha) was officially gazetted as Australia's national floral emblem. In 1992, the first day of September each year was officially declared 'National Wattle Day' throughout Australia by the Commonwealth of Australia.
How we celebrate Wattle Day?
The day was originally conceived as a day to demonstrate patriotism for the new nation of Australia by wearing a sprig of wattle. The day now has wider significance as a day to celebrate our natural environment, our flora, our rainforests and bushland, our coastal heathlands and desert dunes. The sprig of wattle should encourage us to preserve our fragile environment, so that future generations will experience the joy of seeing our bushland light up each spring with golden bloom.
Wattle Day Gallery
The first known use of wattle as a meaningful emblem in the Australian colonies dates back to the early days of Tasmania (1838), when the wearing of silver wattle sprigs was encouraged on the occasion of an anniversary celebration of the seventeenth century European discovery of the island.
Of course the original inhabitants of Australia had many uses for the wattle plant; the boomerang, for example, has created its own widespread meaning in the word itself and in its shape.
Near the end of the nineteenth century, naturalistic imagery of Australian flora and fauna began to appear on utilitarian objects such as furniture. This was a reflection of intensifying nationalism as the colonies considered their progress towards Federation. In October 1889, a short-lived 'Wattle Blossom League' had a preliminary meeting in Adelaide. The chief proposer was a Mr Will Sowden, Vice-President of the Adelaide branch of the Australian Natives Association. The League got as far as having a Wattle Blossom Social in the Adelaide Town Hall (March 1890). It also designed its own flag in January 1881. Later that year, however, some prominent members of the League withdrew and it dissolved.
Wattle Day enthusiasm soon spread to the other states and reached a peak during World War I, when the day was used as a focus for raising money for Australia's war effort. After the war, Wattle Day continued to be associated with fundraising for charitable causes. Following World War II, however, the tradition tapered off. It wasn't until the 1980s that a campaign to revive Wattle Day began, led by Maria Hitchcock of the Australian Plants Society.