Commonwealth Day is an annual celebration of Commonwealth of Nations, which was formerly known as Empire Day. The British Empire was arguably at its peak in the 19th century when Empire Day was established in Canada.
There are 54 countries in the Commonwealth, in Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe, and the Pacific. Commonwealth countries are diverse – they are amongst the world’s biggest, smallest, richest, and poorest countries. The Commonwealth is often described as a ‘family’ of nations. Canada is the largest member of nearly 10 million sq.km. India is the most populous member with over one billion inhabitants while Nauru is the smallest member, with a mere 13,000 people.
History of Commonwealth Day
The Commonwealth is one of the world’s oldest political association of states, with its roots in the British Empire when some countries were ruled directly or indirectly by Britain.
In 1901, Queen Victoria first thought of such an organization on her birthday, then the first Empire Day was held in 1902, a year after her death. Empire day was a celebration of what we used to call the British Empire- a group of countries that the United Kingdom ruled over until 1997. Empire Day used to be celebrated every year on Queen Victoria’s birthday – May 24. Shortly after, in 1958, Harold Macmillan later renamed Empire Day as Commonwealth Day.
Many countries in the world were ruled by the British Empire, gradually all countries were moving towards independence. It was announced to celebrate Commonwealth Day for the purpose of keeping these countries together because unity can establish peace in this world.
When Commonwealth Day is celebrated
Rather than continuing to celebrate Commonwealth Day on the fixed date of 24 May as they had with Empire Day, the Royal Commonwealth Society determined that it would instead be held on the second Monday of March each year. Every year on the second Monday in March, Commonwealth Day is celebrated with pomp.
The Commonwealth of Nations was formed in 1931, a new name was given to the British word in 1949, after which the separated British nations came to be known as Commonwealth nations. Shortly after the organization, when it came to fixing the day to celebrate Commonwealth Day, the first proposal was made by the Royal Commonwealth Society in 1973, which was to celebrate Commonwealth Day on the second Monday of March.
After this, the Commonwealth Secretariat fixed all the countries of the Commonwealth to celebrate Commonwealth Day on the second Monday of March every year. Since then, all Commonwealth countries started celebrating the second Monday of March every year as Commonwealth Day. This year, on this day, the idea of having a new theme with new thinking also emerged. This theme is also chosen to keep in mind social issues. In other words, on this day, such topics are chosen so that the society is good and unity remains.
Commonwealth Day Theme
Every year a specific theme is chosen for Commonwealth Day. The 2020 theme is ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming‘.
On the basis of that theme, the focus is on the activities to be done during the coming year under the leadership of the governments and Commonwealth organizations of the countries joining the Commonwealth. For this, the representatives of civil society of the countries joining the Commonwealth first choose some subject and give their advice on it. Then any one subject is agreed upon. After this, it is approved by the Commonwealth chief ‘Queen’, and then the subject becomes final.
Commonwealth Day activities in 2020
Commonwealth Day is celebrated in all the countries under the Commonwealth through the organization of various programs. As in years past, Commonwealth Day has been organized by people in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Commonwealth countries of America, Pacific and Europe, many activities and cultural events like faith and civic gathering, debate, school assembly, flag hoisting ceremony, parties were done.
London, where the Commonwealth Secretariat Headquarters is located, there is a multi-cultural and multi-faith service at Westminster Abbey, in which some representatives of Commonwealth countries representing their country will receive citations, demonstrations, and will display activities like speech.
Significance of Commonwealth Day
After the fall of British rule, Commonwealth Day was started to keep these independent countries in the organization. And on Commonwealth Day, these countries started working together with a resolution keeping in mind humanity.
India is seen as a very important and powerful member of this organization, not only this, our country shows great interest in humanity, peace and moving forward together on Commonwealth Day.
Every country contributes to this organization on its own free will. Along with all the issues mentioned above, all Commonwealth countries also emphasize social justice, tolerance, and the right to freedom.
One of the reasons behind celebrating Commonwealth Day is to remember the sacrifices of their ancestors, which they gave to achieve independence. Not only this, but the old practice of making slaves is also strongly opposed to this day.
Although no official holiday is given on this day, due to the importance of Commonwealth Day by people, a large number of people gather to celebrate this day.
On this day, billions of people in the world take a pledge to tackle worldly problems together. And there is an attempt to create such an environment in the world in which people can live with the spirit of brotherhood.
Although any person can contribute on the Commonwealth Day alone, not only that, you can also create a sense of unity by organizing the program for all religious castes at one place.
If you want, you can also give a good message to the world by helping the poor or the elderly. For this, you can work well with an organization or even with your friends. Along with this, you can also make your new friends.
In which countries Commonwealth Day is celebrated?
The Union Flag is hoisted in the UK (United Kingdom) on Commonwealth Day, the flag is hoisted at all government offices and buildings. In the United Kingdom, this day is celebrated on the day fixed by the Commonwealth Secretariat, which is, on the second Monday in March. In the UK, no development is given on this day, but the good thing here is that the queen and members of the royal family together guide the people here on Commonwealth Day.
Australia joined this Commonwealth Union in 2006 only. In Australia, Commonwealth Day is celebrated on a fixed day like other countries, in Australia, Commonwealth Day is celebrated on this day as well as Labor Day and other days. However, in Australia, there is no provision for giving any holiday on Commonwealth Day. The people of Australia celebrate this day in memory of good governance.
Canada is a country that celebrates Commonwealth Day with great pomp, for this the national flag of Canada and the flag of Commonwealth Union are hoisted. And a variety of programs are operated throughout the day.
In Gibraltar, this day is organized like other countries, the special thing here is that on the day of Commonwealth Day it is officially given a holiday. So that more and more people can contribute to advance the thinking of Commonwealth nations.
In other countries
In countries such as the Bahamas and Belize, Commonwealth Day is celebrated at a very good level, for which all government schools are discharged and a variety of programs are organized. On Commonwealth Day in these countries, children and people are made aware through speeches, and the true value of humanity is told.
Unknown facts about Commonwealth Day
Commonwealth Day and its actions have connected about 4 billion people in the world, the special thing about the people involved in it is that there are about 1.4 billion people in the age of 30 years.
Just last year, the gross domestic production capacity of all Commonwealth countries was recorded at Rs 05 trillion, not only that in the coming three years it is expected that the gross domestic production capacity will be around Rs 847.56 trillion.
Unity in Commonwealth countries can be gauged from the fact that the percentage of trade between them is 19 percent more than that of trade with non-Commonwealth members. That means Commonwealth Day is working to improve trade among Commonwealth members somewhere.
Commonwealth countries are not less than any in this list due to the increasing trade in the whole world, even in the area of trade, about 20 percent of the Commonwealth members have cities of 50 percent Commonwealth members. These include Delhi, Dhaka, Bangalore, Johannesburg, Kolkata, Cape Town, Chennai.
The maximum population of Commonwealth countries is young, which includes people from 15 years to 29 years. These figures show that the growth of Commonwealth countries depends a lot on the youth. Therefore, the work of bringing together the youth of all the Commonwealth members is done on Commonwealth Day.
According to the Ibrahim Index of African Administration, the list of top 10 countries includes 7 countries out of the Commonwealth Association. There are similar records for gender equality.