What Is Commonwealth Day? | The Student Guide

In honour of Commonwealth Day on the 13th of March 2023, we’ve put together this student guide with everything you need to know including the history and how to celebrate. 

Commonwealth Day is a celebration which takes place on the second Monday in March.

Despite not being a public holiday in the UK like some Commonwealth countries, there’s still plenty of exciting things to get involved with. 

This year is extra special as it is the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Commonwealth Charter, signed by Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2013. 

Read on to find out more!

commonwealth day

What Is Commonwealth Day? 

Commonwealth Day has been observed since 1977 and celebrates the shared values, cultures and history of the Commonwealth of Nations.

The Commonwealth of Nations is a political association of 54 independent states founded over 70 years ago.

The roots of this annual day come from the British Empire, which refers to all the places around the world that were once ruled by Britain, including countries such as Canada, Australia, and India. 

This annual day is celebrated across the world and highlights how member states have become ‘free and equal’. 

Commonwealth countries span Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific.

They are mostly former territories of the British Empire – it includes about 2.6 billion people! 

Queen Elizabeth was the longest reigning head of the Commonwealth, with King Charles taking the position following her death in September 2022.

commonwealth day 2023

History Of Commonwealth Day 

Originally, this day was known as ‘Empire Day’ to honour Queen Victoria the year after she died.

The first event took place on 24th May 1902 to mark the Queen’s birthday.

Although, Canada conceived the idea of a day that would “remind children that they formed part of the British Empire” back in 1897. 

For over 50 years, millions of children and adults across the globe celebrated Empire Day as an opportunity to show their pride in being part of the British Empire. 

However, in 1958 Commonwealth Day replaced Empire Day as the British Empire had started to decline due to countries asserting their independence and celebrating their own identity. 

Throughout history, the date has been changed several times, in 1977 the event was celebrated on the second Monday in March.

Nowadays, there is a different theme each year, focusing on an issue of importance to the Commonwealth. 

The theme for this year is ‘Forging a sustainable and peaceful common future’.

It will focus on the active commitment of member states to support peace, prosperity and sustainability, especially through climate action. 

It’s significant to ensure a better future for young people and improve the lives of Commonwealth citizens globally. 

History Of Commonwealth Day 

How To Celebrate 

This annual celebration is observed differently across the world, with faith and civic gatherings, street parties, poetry performances, flag-raising ceremonies and storytelling festivals to name a few.

If you’re wondering how you can get involved with the celebrations on March 13th, read on to find out!

how to celebrate commonwealth day

1. Get Together To Watch The Service

In the UK, this years service will be the first delivered by His Majesty King Charles III’ as King and Head of the Commonwealth. 

The ceremony within Westminster Abbey will include a multi-faith service, music and readings, as well as the Commonwealth Affirmation.

This is a commitment to the shared values and principles of the Commonwealth. 

During the service, there will also be a flag-raising event to mark 2023 as Commonwealth Year of Peace. 

The King’s ceremony and service will be broadcast throughout the Commonwealth, and will be broadcasted live on BBC One at 2:15pm.

So, you can get together with your flatmates and tune in for the celebrations! 

watching tv friends

2. Attend An Event 

This annual day is an excellent opportunity for Commonwealth nations to come together and celebrate their shared values and diversity.

It’s a day to celebrate what we have in common and a chance to celebrate our differences! 

We’re sure there’ll be plenty of events taking place for March 13th, whether virtually or within your university city or town.

You can find out more about events which are happening this year by searching online. 

attending commonwealth day event

3. Organise Your Own Event 

To mark this global day, get together and host an event on campus or in your student accommodation.

A fun idea could include a commonwealth-themed quiz.

You can put together a quiz on the Commonwealth countries, their history, culture, and achievements – see who knows the most! 

What about inviting students to come together to bring traditional dishes from the different Commonwealth countries?!

It’s a great opportunity to come together and share food, culture, and stories. 

commonwealth day event

4. Learn About Commonwealth Countries 

This global event celebrates the diversity and shared values of the member states.

So, a great way to celebrate could be about learning about the history and culture of the different countries. 

Whether it’s watching documentaries, reading books, listening to podcasts or searching online.

There are plenty of useful resources out there for you to expand your knowledge on the varying Commonwealth countries.

Go out there find out about their contributions to the world! 

learning about different countries

So, that’s it from us for our student guide to Commonwealth Day 2023! 

We hope this post has been useful for finding out more about this day of celebration, reflection, and appreciation. 

Don’t forget to post any photos you get under the hashtag #CommonwealthDay if you host a get-together in your student accommodation.

If you’re studying abroad whilst at university, we’ve put together this guide with 8 tips every student should know. 

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