Anzac Day is one of New Zealand’s most important national occasions. It can be a confronting and emotional time for adults, let alone children.
Laying of wreaths, the Last Post, a crowd that goes silent, marches, poems, medals…Anzac Day is full of symbolism, both heartbreaking and inspiring.
The ceremony and traditions are such an integral part of our culture that it is sometimes easy to forget that not everyone has a shared level of understanding.
The following are some things you can do to help your children understand the importance of Anzac Day to our culture and sense of community, in a way that is age appropriate.
Plan ahead. Brush up on your own historical knowledge so that you feel more informed and prepared when the questions appear.
Keep it honest but simple. It may be enough at this stage just to say, ‘Anzac Day is when we take some time to remember all the brave New Zealand and Australian men and women who fought in wars to keep us safe’.
Share a book about Anzac Day that is specifically aimed at children, this may make it easier for both of you to start a conversation. Read the story and have a chat afterwards. Ask what they think it all means and don’t forget to ask if they have any questions.
Hold your own commemoration. including a minute’s silence. This roleplay would help to prepare your children for attending in the future, including what behaviour is expected of them.
Start your own traditions. Introduce the concepts of Anzac Day through shared activities, such as cooking and craft. Make Anzac biscuits together and talk about how they were made by wives and mothers, and sent to soldiers who were away at war. Or you could make poppies together. Explain that we wear red flowers called poppies to show others that we are remembering the people who went to war.
If your children don’t understand everything this year, that’s fine – it’s a big concept to get your head around. But keep up the traditions and conversations and each year they will understand more.
Traditional Anzac biscuit recipe
1 cup each of plain flour, sugar, rolled oats and coconut
1 Tbs golden syrup
2 Tbs boiling water
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
Preheat oven to 180oC.
Combine dry ingredients.
Melt together butter and golden syrup.
Combine water and bicarb soda, and add to butter mixture.
Mix butter mixture and dry ingredients.
Drop teaspoons of mixture onto a greased biscuit tray.
Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden.
Cool on a tray for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.