Millions of Australians are celebrating their country’s national day today.

Defined by family gatherings, outdoor barbecues and firework displays, the holiday is also the subject of controversy.

In recent years the date has been used to celebrate the country’s diversity, but due to its links to colonialism the day is often met with opposition.

What is Australia Day?

Australia Day is celebrated every January 26, on the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet at Port Jackson in New South Wales, and the raising of the British flag at Sydney Cove by Arthur Philip.

The First Fleet was a group of 11 ships which carried prisoners from Portsmouth to the southern hemisphere. The inhabitants of these ships would become the first European settlement in Australia.

The day has been recognised as a national holiday since 1994, though records show that the day has been recognised in some form since 1808.

How is it celebrated?

January 26 is a public holiday for Australians with many spending the day sharing a picnic or barbecue with family members.

Reflections on Australian history, firework displays and parades are also commonplace.

The day is also marked with the announcement of the Australia Day Honours list and an Australian of the Year.

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