Thursday, December 26, 2019

Boxing Day

In many parts of the world, including Canada, today is Boxing Day and it’s a holiday, too.

The name derives from the tradition of giving seasonal gifts, on the day after Christmas, to less wealthy people and social inferiors, which was later extended to various workpeople such as labourers and servants.

The traditional recorded celebration of Boxing Day has long included giving money and other gifts to charitable institutions, the needy and people in service positions. The European tradition has been dated to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown and there are some claims that it goes back to the late Roman/early Christian era.

In the United Kingdom it certainly became a custom of the nineteenth century Victorians for tradesmen to collect their ‘Christmas boxes’ or gifts in return for good and reliable service throughout the year on the day after Christmas.[1]

The establishment of Boxing Day as a defined public Holiday under the legislation that created the UK’s Bank Holidays started the separation of ‘Boxing Day’ from the ‘Feast of St Stephen’ and today it is almost entirely a secular holiday with a tradition of shopping and post Christmas sales starting.

As mentioned, it’s also St. Stephen’s day, which, unless you’re up on your Catholic mythology, you only know about because of the Christmas carol, Good King Wenceslaus.

At any rate, today is the day to clean up after the holiday if you celebrated or head out to the mall if you want to exchange the mystery gift or use the gift card you got from a friend at work. Or you could stay at home and nosh on the leftovers from Christmas dinner and start writing your thank-you notes.

4 barks and woofs on “Boxing Day

  1. So mostly we gave each other home improvement projects this year (some plumbing work that was overdue) but I gave partner a book, signed by the author – the guy who does the comic strip Mutts – called A Gift of Nothing. It takes about 10 minutes to read and the last page definitely makes you tear up, in a good way – it’s a really cute book.

  2. Last night PBS had a good, well interesting, program on the twelve days of Christmas as celebrated in Tudor times. Boxing day was only one of the twelve and don’t ask me to recite the names or purposes of the others. Point being, our hectic but brief day off from work is a small remnant of what once was a full-blown half month of marking the birth of the Christ. It doesn’t matter if the biblical history is way off – no one knows the exact birth date and it’s certain his mother wasn’t a virgin (he had several brothers, one of whom is mentioned by Paul) – the reason for giving and getting and shopping and eating and drinking is who doesn’t need a party?

    • The predecessor was about ten days of Saturnalia or similar Winter Solstice celebration depending on location. Of course most people were peasant farmers and didn’t have much else to do in the middle of winter other than partying.

      And don’t forget those Christmas Crackers. Not the kind you put cream cheese and smoked salmon on, although those OK too. What does anyone think bringing a tree that is green in midwinter and decorating it like it was almost harvest time is about, effing Jesus?

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