Boxing Day is an age-old tradition in Britain and several Commonwealth countries including Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. But if you’re a recently-arrived American expat now living in New Zealand, Boxing Day is something new. Everyone seems to know what’s going on, except you. The most important thing to know about Boxing Day is that it’s a holiday.
Funny thing, though, no one is precisely sure how the tradition got started.
Boxing Day is December 26
- That’s the day after Christmas, of course. In Britain, a Christmas gift is called a Christmas “box.” According to one story, Boxing Day originated as a chance for employees (servants and peasants) to get a day off and celebrate Christmas with their families, since they were required to work on Christmas Day. Employers and land-owner lords would box up leftover food, old clothing, money, even tools or seeds as gifts for their people. In more modern times, customers would thank tradespeople by giving them Christmas boxes of money or presents.
- Another story explains that churchgoers traditionally donated money for the poor by putting it in a box. The box was opened the day following Christmas, and the money distributed to the needy. In modern times, churches and other organizations hold charity drives.
But back to New Zealand . . .
Since Boxing Day is the day after Christmas, it adds smoothly to everyone’s time off from work. Especially since, in New Zealand, it is an official national holiday. Government offices and many private businesses are closed for the day. Schools, too – technically to celebrate Boxing Day itself, but the date falls right in the middle of the summer break for schools. Yes, Christmas in New Zealand occurs in the summer, not the winter, thanks to that Southern Hemisphere thing.
The original idea was to relax
You could do just that. Make it a private get-together, just you and your pet, cuddled together on the couch watching movies or out and about playing ball or seeing the sights. What a nice way to wind down from the holiday hubbub (and gather your strength for upcoming New Year’s celebrations). Getting some serious exercise is probably smart, given the way you’ve been eating lately.
On the other hand, despite the plethora of parties you may have attended (or hosted) in the past few weeks, there are probably friends you haven’t spent time with. Friends with pets.
Obviously, it’s time for a pet party!
Back in the day, well-to-do Britons celebrated Boxing Day with a fox hunt. While hunting is legal year-round in New Zealand, foxes are not on the list of acceptable targets. Even the British no longer hunt real foxes. Besides, unless your pet happens to be a hound, this is hardly a pet-friendly party theme.
You’ll have to be more realistic. Since it’s summer, you could consider a nice hike, perhaps a swim at the beach, or just a lot of outdoor play as a theme for your pet get-together.
Perhaps you’ve never planned a party specifically for your pet and his furry friends. Whether you want your gathering to be somewhat restrained, or you want to go all out, this article is filled with suggestions and tips to show your four-legged party-goers and their two-legged companions a barking good time. Just be careful what you offer in the way of treats for your furry guests.
Since the common theme regarding the origin of Boxing Day is that it is a day of giving, why not make your pet get-together a fundraiser for your local shelter or rescue organization?
Your pet is a cat?
OK, let’s forget trying to assemble a clowder (or clutter, or glaring) of felines. (Did you know that those are the words one uses to describe a group of cats? All three are acceptable, according to reliable sources.)
Invite your own friends over for a snack and a wee dram to celebrate Boxing Day, and outfit your kitty with leftover gift boxes. What self-respecting cat doesn’t love, love, LOVE to play with boxes? Any box will do, and if you toss in a pile of ribbon, your guy will be ecstatic. He’ll be able to amuse himself while you party on. Of course, a side of tuna or some of that leftover Christmas turkey would go down nicely, too.
No one really cares any more about how Boxing Day got started. Whatever the reason, it’s a day off, in the middle of summer, during the year’s biggest party season. What pet-loving person wouldn’t want to make the most of it by organizing a pet-centric get-together?