Well, I suppose I can call it the Boxing Day Open thread… referring to the extended after Christmas vacation/holiday which is observed in the UK, Canada and Australia. I grew up with not only Boxing Day as an extra bonus day off, but I remember “Easter Monday” as well… which I really, while appreciating an extra long weekend, couldn’t figure for the life of me why that day was ever considered a holiday. But I digress.
So back to boxing day- and no, it has nothing to do with a sport where two people get into a ring and beat each other in front of an excited crowd.
I never really got this day right either, even though I grew up having this day as another kind of holiday. I don’t think many people anymore know exactly how it started or why, but there are a few long held traditions that might be part of the beginnings.
Some believe it actually got started in Roman times when collections for sports competitions was collected in boxes, and later the idea for collecting boxes came to Britain by monks and priests who used them to collect money for the poor at Christmas. On the day after, the priests would open the boxes and distribute the contents to the poor.
The traditional celebration of Boxing Day did include giving money or presents (Christmas boxes) to charities and the poor, but also people in service jobs- maids and house staff.
In Ireland the day is celebrated as St. Stephen’s Day, after Stephen the Martyr who was stoned to death for his testimony of Christ. The Christmas carol, “Good King Wenceslas” tells the story of a Bohemian king going on a journey and braving harsh winter weather to give alms to a poor peasant on the Feast of Stephen on December 26. It was written by John Mason Neale and published in 1853, but the music originates in Finland 300 years earlier.
The traditional and modern celebration of Boxing Day would not be complete without food, which is a big part of the day spent with family and friends. Usually Christmas dinner leftovers are served buffet style so the hostess/cook can have time to spend with the family instead of time in the kitchen.
So there you have it, or not… whether you celebrate the day or not, I hope everyone has a blessed and safe day after Christmas!