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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Boxing Day

Have you ever wondered where the term "Boxing Day" came from, or have you just viewed it as another day off with pay... All I ever saw were people tearing off to Boxing Day sales and kept thinking, what on earth more could they want, we just had Christmas. I've never gone to Boxing Day sales. I inadvertently walked into one at a store one time and one time only when I went for one small item. I was dumbfounded when I stepped in and saw this mad rush of people grabbing at everything in sight and for a moment just stood there is stunned silence. I know more than one person who sets out in the morning and they don't come home until supper time, and completely loaded down with packages, and all I kept thinking was, "WHY". I asked the question years ago about Boxing Day, because nobody seemed to know why they got a day off from work, so I found out.

Well, in days gone by, this was a very important day for working people. Although Christmas day takes over as the gift giving day, Boxing Day was actually an offering of gratitude to working people. I've taken this excerpt from as I wanted to make sure to give the correct information. All the links below will take you to more information should you like to read further.
There are disparate theories as to the origins of the term. The more common stories include:
It was the day when people would give a present or Christmas box to those who had worked for them throughout the year. This is still done in Britain for postmen and paper-boys - though now the 'box' is usually given before Christmas, not after.

In feudal times, Christmas was a reason for a gathering of extended families. All the serfs would gather their families in the manor of their lord, which made it easier for the lord of the estate to hand out annual stipends to the serfs. After all the Christmas parties on 26 December, the lord of the estate would give practical goods such as cloth, grains, and tools to the serfs who lived on his land. Each family would get a box full of such goods the day after Christmas. Under this explanation, there was nothing voluntary about this transaction; the lord of the manor was obliged to supply these goods. Because of the boxes being given out, the day was called Boxing Day.

In England many years ago, it was common practice for the servants to carry boxes to their employers when they arrived for their day's work on the day after Christmas. Their employers would then put coins in the boxes as special end-of-year gifts. This can be compared with the modern day concept of Christmas bonuses. The servants carried boxes for the coins, hence the name Boxing Day.

In churches, it was traditional to open the church's donation box on Christmas Day, and the money in the donation box was to be distributed to the poorer or lower class citizens on the next day. In this case, the "box" in "Boxing Day" comes from that lockbox in which the donations were left.

Because the staff had to work on such an important day as Christmas by serving the master of the house and their family, they were given the following day off. As servants were kept away from their own families to work on a traditional religious holiday and were not able to celebrate Christmas Dinner, the customary benefit was to "box" up the leftover food from Christmas Day and send it away with the servants and their families. (Similarly, as the servants had the 26th off, the owners of the manor may have had to serve themselves pre-prepared, boxed food for that one day.) Hence the "boxing" of food became "Boxing Day".

And this from kidsturncentral

The holiday Boxing Day may get it's name from the 19th century English custom of giving Christmas boxes containing food or money to family servants and suppliers, the day after Christmas.

Another possibility is Boxing Day may have come from the opening of church poor boxes that day.

The most basic understanding is that gifts, or boxes, were given to those who were less fortunate, on the day after Christmas, while gifts to those with equal standing were given on Christmas day.

It is also known as, the Feast of St. Stephen, or St. Stephen's Day - the first Christian martyr.

It is most often celebrated in Australia, Britain, New Zealand, and Canada on December 26.
Although it is a statutory holiday in these countries it is not celebrated as such. Most countries host Boxing Day sales on that day which have little or nothing to do with the holiday at all.

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