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Boxing Day Boxing Day
by The Ovi Team
2017-12-26 12:32:37
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Boxing Day is a public holiday occurring on the 26th of December. The exact etymology of the term "boxing" is unclear and there are several competing theories, none of which is definitive. The tradition has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and 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; metal boxes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen.
 

boxing_400One of the clues to Boxing Day's origins can be found in the Christmas Carol, "Good King Wenceslas." Wenceslas, who was Duke of Bohemia in the early 10th century, was surveying his land on St. Stephen's Day — Dec. 26 — when he saw a poor man gathering wood in the middle of a snowstorm. Moved, the King gathered up surplus food and wine and carried them through the blizzard to the peasant's door. The alms-giving tradition has always been closely associated with the Christmas season — hence the canned-food drives and Salvation Army Santas that pepper our neighbourhoods during the winter — but King Wenceslas' good deed came the day after Christmas, when the English poor received most of their charity.

In the United Kingdom, it certainly became a custom of the nineteenth-century Victorians for tradesmen to collect their "Christmas boxes" or gifts on the day after Christmas in return for good and reliable service throughout the year. Another possibility is that the name derives from an old English tradition: in exchange for ensuring that wealthy landowners' Christmases ran smoothly, their servants were allowed to take the 26th off to visit their families. The employers gave each servant a box containing gifts and bonuses (and sometimes leftover food). In addition, around the 1800s, churches opened their alms boxes (boxes where people place monetary donations) and distributed the contents to the poor.

To protect ships

During the Age of Exploration, when great sailing ships were setting off to discover new land, A Christmas Box was used as a good luck device. It was a small container placed on each ship while it was still in port. It was put there by a priest, and those crewmen who wanted to ensure a safe return would drop money into the box. It was then sealed up and kept on board for the entire voyage. If the ship came home safely, the box was handed over to the priest in the exchange for the saying of a Mass of thanks for the success of the voyage. The Priest would keep the box sealed until Christmas when he would open 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 is why that day became known as Boxing Day.

A present for the workers

During the late 18th century, Lords and Ladies of the manor would "box up" their leftover food, or sometimes gifts, and distribute them the day after Christmas to tenants who lived and worked on their lands. Many poorly paid workers were required to work on Christmas Day and took the following day off to visit their families. As they prepared to leave, their employers would present them with these Christmas boxes.

The tradition of giving money to workers still continues today. It is customary for householders to give small gifts or monetary tips to regular visiting trade people (the milkman, dustman, coalman, paper boy etc.) and, in some work places, for employers to give a Christmas bonus to employees.

When is Boxing Day

Boxing Day is a secular holiday, but is traditionally celebrated on 26 December, St. Stephen's Day, the day after Christmas Day. Whenever the 26th December falls on a Sunday traditionally Boxing Day is moved to the 27th December— supposedly to ensure that Sunday church-going and other Sunday observance is maintained. In Britain, Boxing Day is usually celebrated on the following day after Christmas Day, which is 26 December. However, strictly speaking, Boxing Day is the first weekday after Christmas (see definition in the Oxford English Dictionary). Like Christmas Day, Boxing Day is a bank holiday (public holiday) throughout Britain. When Christmas Day falls on a Friday or Saturday, Boxing Day, which is a bank holiday, is the following Monday.

In Ireland—when it was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland—the UK's Bank Holidays Act 1871 established the feast day of St Stephen as a non-movable public holiday on 26 December. Since the Irish War of Independence, the name "Boxing Day" is used only by the authorities in Northern Ireland (which remained part of the United Kingdom). There, Boxing Day is a movable public holiday in line with the rest of the United Kingdom.

The Banking and Financial Dealings Act of 1971 established "Boxing Day" as a public holiday in Scotland. In the Australian state of South Australia, 26 December is a public holiday known as Proclamation Day and Boxing Day is not normally a public holiday. However, Canada, the USA, and many other countries use Boxing Day for commercial use. Items usually cost less and many sales are on. Traditionally people would save one of their gifts that was still wrapped and donate it to charity. Now it has turned into a much more commercial occasion, mainly for people to save money on many items.


  
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Emanuel Paparella2012-12-26 13:22:28
Interesting celebration. It sounds like a day to get rid of left-over and show "charity" to workers and servants one has exploited for a whole year including Christmas. I wonder what Marx thought of such a day.


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