Wrestling Day a civic holiday in Williams Lake, B.C.

While many people will be back at work on Friday, the B.C. city of Williams Lake continues to give its residents the day off on Jan. 2, known locally as Wrestling Day.

Residents take an extra day off after New Year's Day

It remains unclear why Jan. 1 is called Wrestling Day in Williams Lake, B.C., but residents still celebrate it as a civic holiday. (Gregory Bull/Canadian Press)

While many people will be back at work on Friday, the B.C. city of Williams Lake continues to give its residents the day off on Jan. 2, known locally as Wrestling Day.

Local author Ann Walsh says they have been celebrating the civic holiday, known as Wrestling Day, for decades.

"The story goes that, back in the late 1930s — there's some debate over the exact date — two merchants looked down the empty streets of downtown … and said, ' Why don't we just shut 'er down and go home?'"

The holiday first became official in 1942.

Wrestling with the name of the holiday

While it may seem to be an obvious play off Boxing Day, the holiday after Christmas, stories about Wrestling Day got its name still vary.

"Some people maintain it's because some people were still wrestling with their New Year's hangover," Walsh told guest host Stephen Quinn on CBC Radio's The Early Edition.

There have been some attempts to incorporate actual wrestling into the festivities.

"Apparently, last year, the wrestling club in town did, in fact, do a little fundraiser and a wrestling demonstration," Walsh said.

Wrestling Day traditions

"For many years, there was a tradition of walking across Chimney Lake. …And a number of people, including [playwright] Gwen Ringwood and [historian] Irene Stangoe … would walk across the lake, and then we'd end up at someone's house and have hot chocolate or whatever we brought for potluck," she said.

But freezing temperatures make that tradition unlikely this year.

"In Williams Lake, we get real winter. … Winter bites and slaps, and it was –25 [C] yesterday," Walsh said, "[Walking across Chimney Lake] can't be fun when it's –25."

No matter how cold it gets on Jan. 2, there is one tradition residents will have no trouble honouring:

"It's just a day to sort of sit back, and smile smugly at the rest of the province as they go back to work," she said.

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