Why we celebrate Boxing Day
I once told a good American friend who was here visiting that Boxing day was when we had a big televised boxing match the day after Christmas. So cruel. But it is a bit confusing. Lots of ideas abound about why we celebrate this day and why it is called this. Here are a few. Take your pick!
Good King Wencelas
According to the carol (and legend) “Good King Wenceslas.” Wenceslas, who was Duke of Bohemia in the early 10th century, was looking out onto his land on St. Stephen’s Day ,Dec. 26,when he saw a poor man gathering wood in a snowstorm. The King gathered up food and wine and carried them through the blizzard to the poor mans door. The alms-giving tradition has always been closely associated with the Christmas season, but King Wenceslas’ good deed came the day after Christmas. Giving and gifting to the needy is closely tied in with most accounts of the reason for boxing day
My dad always referred to Christmas presents as Christmas boxes. In the United Kingdom, it was a custom of the nineteenth-century Victorians for tradesmen to collect “Christmas boxes” or gifts on the day after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year You probably gift postal workers and refuge collectors still at Christmas but probably on a dfiferent day now. This could explain ‘Boxing Day’ though.
A day off for the servants
Another possibility is that the name derives from an old English tradition: in exchange for ensuring their wealthy masters Christmases ran smoothly, servants were allowed the next day off to visit their families. Each servant would be given a box containing gifts and bonuses and leftover food to take home with them. Hence BOXING day,
To protect ships
A Christmas box was a small container inteneded to bring good luck that priests placed on each ship while still in port. Crewmen, to ensure a safe return, dropped money in the box. It was then sealed and kept on board for the entire voyage. If the ship came home safely, the crew gave the box to the priest in exchange for the saying of a Mass of thanks. The Priest kept the box sealed until Christmas, and then opened it to share the contents with the poor.
To help the poor
An ‘Alms Box’ was placed in every church on Christmas Day, into which worshipers placed a gift for the poor of the parish. These boxes were always opened the day after Christmas, which may be why that day became known as Boxing Day and this is probably the most commonly upheld origin in the UK today.
Big thanks to Wikipedia for filling me in on some new meanings!
What does it mean to you?
As a child we always went to Grandad’s house and showed him our gifts on Boxing Day. As a teenager I would see my friends and compare Christmas’s. As a young woman maybe lunch with friends after a wealth of family time. Now with little ones it’s about tidying up a little, quieter times, still family visits but more restful, children watching a little TV and playing with new toys and me relaxing. But I shall take a box to my neighbour of some bits and bobs. You can’t mess to much with tradition can you!
What will you do?