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What is Boxing Day all about in Australia?

Boxing Day is a holiday in many countries, such as Australia, in the Commonwealth of Nations.

It was traditionally a day for employers in England to give bonuses of money, leftover food or old clothing to their employees, or for lords to give agricultural tools and seeds for the coming year to their tenants. These gifts were usually presented in a box.

As a young hitch-hiker in the 60s I worked on a Kibbutz in Israel as a banana picker for a few months leading up to Christmas. Hanukkah (a Jewish Festival like Christmas) was held for 8 days early in December that year and gave us all a very welcome break from working in the hot sun.

Later in the month I had to explain in great detail why I did not turn up for work on 25 December. Finally, my boss accepted my point about the day being a religious day in England. The following day however I could not adequately explain the religious significance of Boxing Day and found myself back on the banana truck!

Many important sports events are held on Boxing Day in Australia. The Boxing Day test match is a cricket game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The game is between the Australian National cricket team and other national teams touring Australia.

Another important sporting event that starts on Boxing Day is the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. This is also known as the Bluewater Classic and covers a distance of 630 nautical miles between Sydney Harbour and Hobart. Traditionally, it took about six days for the yachts to reach Hobart, but now, thanks to sailing technology the fastest yacht usually reaches the finish in less than two days!

The media interest in these prominent sports mean television programs are dominated by sporting events on Boxing Day. People also spend the day travelling home from their relatives or to an intended destination for their summer holiday, which coincides with the school holiday period.

In some parts of Australia, the post-Christmas sales begin on Boxing Day. Stores offer their excess stock that was not sold before Christmas Day at reduced prices. Many people take advantage of the sales to buy products or services at significantly lower prices.

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