Observed by the 53 member states of the Commonwealth Of Nations, Commonwealth Day is a celebration that is held on the second March of every year. Its purpose is to recognize the work of Commonwealth members and to promote understanding and cooperation on global issues.
Every year this day has a theme. In 2012, the theme was “Connecting Cultures” and in 2013, the theme was “Opportunity Through Enterprise.” in 2015, the theme was “A Young Commonwealth.”
This observance day was officially enacted in the late 1970s, although most historians agree that its roots can probably can be traced all the way back to the late 19th century. This is when Empire Day was enacted; an observance day that celebrated the British roots of Canada.
Over time however, Canada began to develop her own National identity that was separate of the identity of Great Britain. To account for the changes in the relationship between Great Britain and her former colonies, Commonwealth Day was established in 1958. In 1976, it was enacted to celebrate the day universally over all member states.
Customs, Traditions And Celebrations
Observances of this day is not uniform across the 53 member states; meaning that each country observes the day in its own way. For instance, in the UK the day is often started off with the Union Jack flying over government buildings and a special speech given by the Queen. Members of the Royal Family – including the Queen – usually attend special services on this day as well.
In Canada, the Canadian Flag is usually flown alongside the Union Jack to commemorate the day. However, if the flag pole is not big enough to accommodate two flags, then usually only the Canadian Flag is flown.
In some of the British possessions in the Caribbean, special flag raising ceremonies are performed to commemorate the day. At these events, the Queen’s message to the Commonwealth is usually read aloud to those in attendance at these events.