Boxing Day

Posted on Wed 12/27/2017 by

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It’s odd sometimes when you get so used to the way things are in your own Country that you don’t realise that it’s not the same in other Countries, and because you live with it all your life, then it’s just a natural thing that it’s always ‘there’.

Such is the case with Boxing Day here in Australia.

Boxing Day is December 26th, the day after Christmas, and it’s a designated Federal Public Holiday. It has always been the case here in Australia, and I was not aware that it was something that was only in place in Australia, and a couple of other British Commonwealth Countries, and it is not observed in the U.S.

Boxing Day has nothing at all to do with the sport of boxing, and it originated in England, and because Australia is part of that British Commonwealth, then it also became one of those carried over traditions here in Australia.

It’s origins are a little ‘cloudy’ these days, but perhaps the main origin dates back to the English Upper Class who gave their household staff and servants the day off after Christmas Day, having served them during the Christmas Day celebrations, so they were given the following day off so they could relax and be with their own families, and, in most cases, they were each given a box with money or gifts or even food in those boxes for them and their families. (or so the story goes)

Nowadays, Boxing Day is the day of recovery after Christmas.

I distinctly remember back to when I was a teenager, in my early years in the the Royal Australian Air Force, and home on Leave for Christmas, and we would all gather together on Boxing Day, with friends, partners, and family, and because there were five of us children, that group was quite large. Each Boxing Day, we would drive into the Hinterland behind our home on Queensland’s Gold Coast, and visit one of the three or four main large swimming holes in the mountains behind The Gold Coast, of which there were a number. We would swim in the cold fresh mountain water, keeping in mind that Christmas here in Australia is in mid Summer, and we would have a huge picnic lunch with leftovers from the day before, the Christmas dinner leftovers, of which there was always plenty. It was always a great day out. That was us as a family, and that was also back in the late 60 and early to mid 70s.

These days things are different.

As always, it has also been a huge day for Sport here in Australia.

There is the traditional start to the five day Boxing Day Test at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) in Melbourne. That cricket match features the Australian National team, and the team scheduled to play in that Series of Tests each year, and this year it is the English Team, in a series of five matches to decide who wins ‘The Ashes’, perhaps the single most prestigious trophy in World Cricket, and only played between these two Countries, the longest playing of all cricket playing Nations, the first Match dating back to December 1876, and that first Test Match was played at Melbourne.

Also a huge event is the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, perhaps one of the most prestigious and the hardest yacht races on Earth, and now that has been going since 1945. It is 630 Nautical Mile race in open water, starting on Sydney Harbour. The yachts sail out through Sydney heads, turn right and then sail down the East Coast of Australia in the Southern Pacific Ocean, The Tasman Sea, across Bass Strait, and then down the East Coast of Tasmania, then sailing up the mouth of the Derwent River into Hobart itself. Hundreds of thousands of people gather along the Harbour in Sydney to watch the yachts race down the Harbour.

Here in Australia, Boxing Day has also turned into perhaps the single largest shopping day of the year. Virtually every major retail outlet, well nearly all of them really, has a Boxing Day Sale, and this day is similar to the Black Friday sale day after Thanksgiving in the U.S. People actually queue up outside of the major Malls and the big Department stores, sometimes through the night, so they can get in as soon as the doors open.

There is talk that this year could be the biggest Boxing Day ever for retail with a projected total of more than $12 Billion being spent across Australia.

It even happens locally, here in Rockhampton, where I live. The huge shopping Mall closest to where we live is the Stockland Mall and they are expecting their biggest crowds ever. I read that just in the two to three weeks leading up to Christmas, more than 400,000 people have passed through the doors into the Mall. Shopping hours were extended, and some outlets were open until Midnight in that last week before Christmas. We do our Supermarket shopping and other shopping there on a year rond basis, and I have never seen so many people in this shopping centre. Perhaps the most difficult part is trying to find somewhere to park, and this shopping centre has ample parking and I have never had any problems driving in and immediately finding somewhere to park. This year, people have been driving around for anything up to half an hour before finding somewhere to park, more often than not having to wait until someone pulls out of a parking space, so they can then drive into it. I even had some last minute grocery shopping for ten or so items on the Sunday directly before Christmas Day, and I decided to get there early, at 8.30AM, and even then the car park was getting full, the shopping centre was packed, and the Supermarket had a lot of people in there doing their own shopping. It was hectic to say the least, so, yesterday, Boxing Day, I stayed right away.

Boxing Day, while not unique just to Australia, is a day when there is a lot on across the whole of Australia, and I was surprised to find out it was not the same in the U.S. You have ‘Black Friday’, and we have Boxing Day. One is enough thank you.

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