Christmas day is over for another year and the next day December 26 is Boxing Day. Except that in some years it’s a different date, but that’s a minor point. The real question is why is it called Boxing Day and what happens to make it special? As you will discover there are ancient traditions, strange events and mad scrambles to the shops. All is revealed in this article by Paul Denton which I found over on his website at Paul Denton.co.uk. He even includes a video by Lori Wellbourne which shows what happens in Canada on Boxing Day.
So when is Boxing Day? December 26th, is Boxing Day and is a holiday celebrated in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and other Commonwealth countries. Boxing Day originated in England in the middle of the nineteenth century under Queen Victoria. For years in which the holiday falls on a weekend, the celebration is moved to make sure workers still get a day off (except in Canada, where it remains Dec. 26) In the UK it’s classed as a Bank Holiday.
Boxing Day is spent with family and friends at open gatherings with lots of food, fun, friendship and love. Food on boxing day usually includes left over turkey from the day before. This can be eaten in sandwiches or as a meal with vegetables, roast potatoes and all the trimmings. Some people like to have cold ham in a buffet style so the cook can also have a rest and spend time with the family.
Why Is Boxing Day Called Boxing Day?
Boxing Day is so called because it was the custom on that day for tradesmen to collect their Christmas boxes or gifts in return for good and reliable service throughout the year. Boxing Day is also St. Stephen’s Day. St Stephen was a little known saint who achieved eternal fame by being the first Christian to be martyred for his faith by being stoned to death shortly after Christ’s crucifixion. He’s also named in the Christmas song Good King Wenceslas
“Good King Wenceslas Looked Out On The Feast Of Stephen”
The traditional celebration of Boxing Day included giving money and other gifts to charitable institutions, needy individuals, and people in service jobs. The holiday may date from the Middle Ages (A.D. 400’s–1500’s), but the exact origin is unknown. It may have begun with the lords and ladies of England, who presented Christmas gifts in boxes to their servants on December 26. Or it may have begun with priests, who opened the church’s Alms (charity) boxes on the day after Christmas and distributed the contents to the poor.
Boxing Day Traditions
Some say the tradition stems from Roman times when money to pay for athletic games was collected in boxes. Amongst the ruins of Pompeii, boxes made out of earthenware with slits in the top full of coins have been found. Later the Romans brought the idea of collecting boxes to Britain, and monks and clergy soon used similar boxes to collect money for the poor at Christmas. On the day after Christmas, the priests used to open the boxes and distribute the contents to the poor of the village. Thus this day came to be called Boxing Day.
See more at Paul Denton.co.uk