Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve. At midnight, many people celebrate the New Year with friends. Many towns and cities have a free outdoor concert. At one minute to midnight there is a count down from 60 seconds to 1 second then everyone shouts ‘Happy New Year’. It is common to kiss friends and to sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ too. This is a Scottish song about remembering friends. Some people make New Year’s Resolutions which are promises they make to themselves to be better people – to lose weight, to stop smoking, or some other good intention. Traditionally people do not keep New Year’s Resolutions for very long!
Then the next two days are a holiday just like Christmas Day and Boxing Day. These are statutory holidays, written into the statutes or laws of this country. Other statutory holidays are Waitangi Day, Easter (Good Friday and Easter Monday), Queen’s Birthday, and Labour Day. If you have to work on a statutory holiday, your boss must pay you time and a half (which means 1.5 times your usual pay) as well as giving you another day off.
As well as statutory holidays, every worker has four weeks annual leave. Most people take this leave between the end of December and the end of January. Factories, businesses, offices and government departments are often closed until the middle of January although they usually have someone working to deal with emergencies.
Traditionally, Kiwi families start their summer holiday by leaving home on Boxing Day and driving to the beach. Some families go camping while others have a bach at a beach. A bach used to be an old house with just one or two bedrooms but these days some beach houses are modern and quite expensive. If you want to book a motel or a holiday house, you probably need to do this some months ahead.
Beach holidays are a time to be lazy, to swim, read, play beach cricket, eat simple meals, make friends and do nothing much. Then it’s time to pack up, go home and go back to work.