The origins of 'Boxing Day' are believed to come from the practice of the British rich distributing their largesse to the luckless poor, thereby accentuating still further the class divisions of the times.
In large households the servants were expected to work on Xmas Day and were compensated by being allowed to take the next day off. Their masters gave them a box and based on their performance over the year, varying sums of money which were placed inside the box.
Am I alone in spotting the similarity of this Victorian custom with the annual performance bonus which features so largely in Singaporean working lives?
This year we have had the "Boxing Day" sales a week or two before the actual day as the New Zealand retailers desperately canvas for customers.
Unlike Singapore which has recorded respectable economic growth despite the recession, New Zealand has very narrowly avoided a 'double-dip recession', a term which may sound like a chocolate dipped NZ icecream but is in reality far less palatable.
The Singapore government's tight stewardship during the economic turbulence is to be commended and the results are for all to see.
As a trading nation far for its markets and with a strong dollar against our major trading partners, New Zealand has some major economic challenges. This has not be helped by the past excesses of the welfare state.
Despite the gloom and doom, sport remains high on the list of leisure pursuits in this country and with the traditional summer holidays upon us, many New Zealanders head to the beach.
Fishing is a very popular activity with local television channels featuring fishing shows and the customers purchasing cut-price rods and reels in the Boxing Day sales.
I have very fond memories of this sport with fly fishing for trout as well as rod fishing off the rocks for a catch from the sea featuring in my past. I have done neither in recent years but the thrill of the catch is still a fond memory.
|Source: Straits Times|
Travelling to a raised platform called a kelong is a preferred method and nowadays with few of the Singapore kelongs remaining, Singaporeans go across to Malaysia for their sport.
Boxing Day was not a good day for Singaporean fishermen with the news that three of them drowned and another two were missing returning by ferry from a kelong in Pulau Sibu, off Mersing.
As per usual, the problem was a grossly overloaded ferry which capsized in strong winds and a treacherous current near the Tanjung Leman jetty.
Ferry capsizes in South East Asia happen with monotonous regularity, especially in the Philippines and Indonesia were maritime rules are flouted in a grab for more profit.
Malaysian incidents are fewer but do occur and arresting the captain and boat operator post-event is not going to curb such negligence.
Is prawning fishing?
Meanwhile back on land, hedonistic spending ensures that the mall tills continue to jingle a happy tune.
Crowds are returning to the Singapore malls with Vivo City recording a million more visitors compared to the same period last year and their security staff remain vigilant for any kind of misdemeanor.
According to the Straits Times, pickpockets, shoplifters and even molesters enjoy the festive season. Here in Auckland the 'molesters' usually make the malls off limits but shoplifting has always been a problem.
Both countries though enjoy a good deal and in Singapore the newly Groupon-acquired site Deal.com crashed under the weight of bargain hunters.
Even then, the online option is probably safer than venturing out?
Boxing Day in our southern city of Christchurch was an eventful one with a series of earthquake after-shocks rattling customers and the shelves that were groaning under the weight of bargains.