Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A wild and woolly Christmas, a tornado and Boxing Day

Chistmas Day in Australia was eventful.  Storm clouds were brewing up during the morning, then late in the afternoon the skies opened up.  High intensity thunderstorm cells dumped very heavy rain at some locations, and hail that broke the windows of parked cars.

Section of train line were badly damaged near Hurstbridge when floodwater washed away the track ballast.

A tornado was even forecast for western Melbourne. It duly arrived at Fiskville and Keilor Downs where it caused some local damage to properties.  This is the only actual tornado in Melbourne that I can recall.

There was some rain early Boxing Day but the storms had subsided.  Lena, Chloe and I did a family to the National Art Gallery of Victoria (curious name!) and visited Picasso's Weeping Woman among many other fine paintings.

We stopped at Waffle On for a nice waffle and a chat with Marc.  Then we visited Myer's famous Christmas windows, which were fun and not too crowded, before heading home on the train.

Chloe asked "why is it called Boxing Day?".  I wasn't too sure so I looked it up.  It turned out to be a good question.  

The exact etymology of Boxing Day is unclear. There are several competing theories. The tradition has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions. The European tradition has been dated to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown and there are some claims that it goes back to the late Roman/early Christian era; metal boxes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen.

In the United Kingdom, it was a custom for tradesmen to collect "Christmas boxes" of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year. This custom is linked to an older English tradition: wealthy landowners allowed their servants were allowed to take the 26th off to visit their families. The employers gave each servant a box containing gifts and bonuses, and sometimes leftover food.

In many Western countries, Boxing Day has become synonymous with consumption, where many line up at department stores in search of bargains at "Boxing Day sales". Many products are bought for their reduced price rather than for real need.

There is an opportunity for us to rediscover the traditional roots of Boxing Day and give a gift to someone who may need it. Using up leftovers from the Christmas Day dinner is also a good practice.

All the best for the New Year.

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