Today is Boxing Day in Australia - always the 26th of December - the day after Christmas day. But, what is it?
Boxing Day is a national public holiday celebrated yearly on December 26 in all of Australia except in the state of South Australia. The day after Christmas Day is officially Proclamation Day in South Australia and marks the proclamation of South Australia as a British province in 1836.
No, Boxing Day has nothing to do with two gloved men sparring on a canvas square ringed by ropes and trying to knock each other out. In Australia, Boxing Day is also the day the peril-fraught Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race begins.
For many, in places where shops open on this public holiday, it is also the start of the post-Christmas bargain shopping season. Boxing Day is believed to have received its name from an old tradition when employers boxed gifts for their workers on the day after Christmas.
Apparently this custom dates back to the Middle Ages in Europe where giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions was part of the tradition. In the United Kingdom, a December 1663 entry in Samuel Pepys' diary mentions a custom for tradesmen to collect "Christmas boxes" of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas.
Yet another explanation of how Boxing Day got its name refers to the day when, in old England, church collection boxes were opened and the money distributed to the poor.
Boxing Day Cricket Test:
With the excitement and exhaustion of Christmas Day over, the Boxing Day Test at the MCG is one of Australia's most popular sporting events. Reasons for this go well beyond the fact that cricket in Melbourne, and indeed Australia, attracts loyal supporters.
The popularity of the Boxing Day Test also has something to do with Australia's relaxed outdoor lifestyle, which sees sports lovers appreciate a fine summer's day spent with friends watching sporting greats battle it out on a well-manicured field.
The first ever Test match involving Boxing Day took place in 1950. Prior
to that, Boxing Day at the MCG had been the domain of Sheffield Shield cricket,
often the highly popular Victoria-New South Wales encounters.
Many famous events have happened during the Boxing Day Test, including umpire Darrell
Hair calling Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for throwing in 1995 and Shane Warne taking his 700th Test wicket in 2006 against England in his final MCG Test.
HAPPY BOXING DAY!