9 reasons to celebrate Harmony Day

We all have something interesting and authentic to bring to the table

There's little doubt that Australia is one of the most culturally-diverse nations on the planet. Our population is made up of people representing virtually every cultural background. The inevitable result of this is that our society becomes a huge melting pot of colour, flavour and diversity.

Harmony Day, which is observed today, celebrates this diversity. It aims to foster a broad sense of inclusiveness, respect and the idea that people of all different cultures can make a valuable contribution to society. We all have something interesting and authentic to bring to the table. And our society is stronger, richer and more interesting because of this.

Here's our list of 9 touchstones from other cultures that have found (or are finding) a valued place within our society.

9.  Diwali

The Hindu "Festival of Lights" is held every October and is a significant event on the Hindu calendar. In the last 10 years it's started to capture "mainstream" attention, and is now celebrated in some workplaces with morning teas of traditional Indian and Sri Lankan goodies.


8.  Asian food

Where would we be without our Asian food? It's become such a staple of our food-loving culture that supermarkets now devote entire sections to Asian food and cooking ingredients. From its humble beginnings as the token Chinese restaurant in every country town, Australia's love of Asian food now encompasses entire neighbourhoods that seem to specialise in particular cuisines, such as Melbourne's Richmond and Footscray for Vietnamese and Sydney's Newtown for Thai.


7.  Lebanese food

Lebanese food has become a mainstay in our culture for many years with delicious goodies such as tabbouleh, hummus, and falafel a staple for many people. And who doesn't love a good kebab?


6.  St Patrick's Day

The Aussie population has strong Irish roots and this shows with our love of Irish pubs, Guinness and also St Patrick's Day celebrations, held annually on 17 March.


5.  Mexican food

Mexican is another cuisine that's so popular it's now available in most supermarkets for DIY tacos or nachos at home. And Mexican restaurants are always a popular choice.


4.  Sport

We think of ourselves as a sporting nation, but many of our most popular sports originated in other countries, such as cricket and netball which are both from England and surfing from the US state of Hawaii.


3.  Lunar New Year

This major event on the Chinese calendar has become a show-stopper for the broader community with large and colourful parades being held in major cities to welcome in the Lunar new year. Which animal are you?


2.  Yoga

This physical and spiritual discipline has been around for thousands of years and is an important component of many Eastern cultures and religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Shaivism and Jainism. In our modern Aussie society it's something that many people now incorporate it into their weekly health and fitness regimes.


1.  Italian food

The first wave of Italian immigrants to Australia in the 1950s brought their food and coffee with them, and we're eternally grateful that they did. These days Italian restaurants are everywhere and words like "marinara", "carbonara", "ravioli" and "tortellini" are commonplace. Good old spaghetti Bolognese (or "spag bol") is so popular it's almost our unofficial national dish.