Boxing Day occurs the day after Christmas each year, and in modern times it is considered an extension of Christmas celebrations as well as a day for sales and major sporting events.
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Boxing Day has many traditional origins. The one most favoured is that Boxing Day in the 18th and 19th centuries was the day on which the master and mistress of ‘the house’ would give small gifts or food to their staff, usually in boxes.
Not all countries celebrate Boxing Day but New Zealanders love it because, with the public holidays being transferred to weekdays if they fall on a weekend, it means that sometimes there is a four-day weekend right in the middle of summer. Many people link this to their New Year’s Day holiday and can get up to nine days off with only a few days being taken as leave. And with daylight savings, there’s plenty of recreation time for families and social groups.
The ‘outdoors’ type of families go to the beaches, lakes and rivers. Some hike in groups, some picnic and many others just take it easy and watch cricket or the Sydney-to-Hobart yacht race on TV. Most consider Boxing Day as a pleasant day off from work where they barbecue leftovers from Christmas Day and make bubble-and-squeak with turkey, ham and vegetables.
And for those who haven’t had enough of shopping before Christmas, there are the Boxing Day sales no matter what day of the week Boxing Day falls. The Boxing Day sales are growing every year, e.g., on Boxing Day in 2010, New Zealanders spent $99 million and, in 2011, $106million.
Local events on this day include the Caroline Bay Carnival on the east coast of South Island, which kicks off a two-week event, and the Ellerslie Boxing Day Races – horse races that have run for over 150 years at the Auckland Racing Club. If you’re looking for something you can do indoors, the Auckland Museum runs special exhibits, usually for free, on Boxing Day.