Boxing Day

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
Boxing Day! It didn't quite mean what I thought!

Submitted: December 26, 2016

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Submitted: December 26, 2016

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Boxing Day

 

Boxing Day or St Stephen’s Day falls on the 26th December. Some countries including Germany, Poland and the Nordic countries treat it as a second Christmas day.

 

I thought it would be interesting to do some research to find out where the name came from. There were vague images of boxing matches being held in makeshift rings out on the streets that had been drifting around in my mind but this, it seems, is totally wrong.

 

There are three different theories I found about the origin of the term ‘Boxing Day.’ The first, dating back to the 1830’s refers to Christmas boxes. Tradespeople or those providing a ‘service’ to the general public would receive gifts in acknowledgement for their efforts, mostly in the form of a small cash payment as a way of saying ‘thank you.’

 

The wealthy families would expect a full day of work from their staff and servants on Christmas Day, often involving much more work than usual. The staff and servants would then be given the following day off to visit their own families and would be given boxes to take home with them, containing gifts and left-over food.

 

The third meaning is that it originated from the Alms Boxes that were placed at places of worship. People would make donations for the poor and needy in their neighbourhood when they attended.

 

The day after Christmas is seen by many businesses in the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand as their equivalent to America’s Black Friday. Many stores open early in the morning offering heavy discounts, and there has been frequent media coverage of the queues that form, waiting for those doors to open. Boxing Day sales now often extend for a week or more, instead of being confined to just the one day. And internet shopping has of course made a big difference to those queues.

 

The 26th December is a big date for lots of sports in many countries, with special competitions held. It is also one of the biggest days for organised hunting parties.

 

As a final note, in Ireland it is known as La Fheile Stiofan (St Stephen’s Day) or alternatively as La an Dreoilin (Day of the wren). It was traditional for people to dress in old clothes, sometimes in straw costumes, and go from door to door, singing, dancing or playing a musical instrument. These people were known as Wrenboys or Mummers and that is where the term ‘mumming’ comes from. You will still find Mummers today, mostly children -- I had a visit from some this morning -- but it is a tradition that is in decline.


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