Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Holiday (observed)

Today is Boxing Day (observed) because Christmas was on Sunday and its legal observance was transferred to Monday, which would have been Boxing Day, so its observance is today. Got that?

Actually, it’s simple: Whenever Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day or January 2 fall on a weekend, the statutory holiday is moved to the following Monday and also Tuesday (if needed). And yet the trading bans—which prohibit most commercial activities, including TV commercials—on Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Anzac Day morning, don’t move. Okay, that bit gets confusing.

In New Zealand, Boxing Day is really nothing more than a day to go shopping (we didn’t go yesterday, but went today instead; we survived). Most big retailers have a “Boxing Day Sale” which lasts until New Year, when they begin—surprise!—New Year’s Sales. Still, the day (or two) after Christmas is traditionally one (or two…) of the biggest trading days retailers have all year.

I’m often asked if I think it’s weird having Christmas in summer, and that question comes from people who have it in winter—usually a real, icky winter of the sort that I left behind. People from warmer climates in the Northern Hemisphere don’t think mild Christmas holidays are so weird.

At any rate, the question has two answers. First, no: After 17 summertime Christmases in New Zealand, that seems normal to me. But the longer answer is that when I first moved to this country, it all seemed weird, not at all Christmasy—in fact, probably un-Christmasy. On the other hand, it also seemed a bit exotic, hot weather and barbecues at Christmas.

So, no, I don’t think having Christmas in summer is weird. In fact, I like it.

Boxing Day, on the other hand, with its uncertain etymology, seems to me a little weird as a holiday. I like the sales, though, and I like the assured day off, so it's definitely a holiday observed by me.


Roger Owen Green said...

well, there was ZERO snow in Albany, NY. The grass is absurdly green for this time of year.

Answering your question tomorrow, BTW.

Arthur Schenck said...

Of course, our grass is absurdly green all year long—except in a hot, dry stretch in summer, of course.

Look forward to the answer!