Boxing Day

Filed under: Just For Fun,Leisure |

The day after Christmas is widely known as “Boxing Day” in many areas of the world including United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Ghana, Switzerland, Germany, Greenland, The Netherlands, New Zealnad, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Trindad & Tobago, Jamaica and countries in the Commonwealth of Nations. In these countries “Boxing Day” is a bank and public holiday yet here in the United States it is not officially recognised.

The origins of Boxing Day are widely debated but it is generally acknowledged that Boxing Day was traditionally a day on which the servants had a day off from their duties. Because of this the gentry would eat cold cuts and have a buffet-style feast prepared by the servants in advance. In modern times many families will still follow this tradition by eating a family-style buffet lunch, with cold cuts rather than a full cooked meal. It is a time for family, parlour games and sports in the UK.

The traditional recorded celebration of Boxing Day 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 were placed outside churches used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen.  

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. The exact etymology of the term “Boxing” is unclear, with several competing theories, none of which is clearly true.

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.

While Boxing Day is 26 December, many retailers who hold Boxing Day Sales will run the sales for several days before or after 26 December, often up to New Years Eve.  Canada’s Boxing Day has often been compared to the U.S.’s Black Friday, right after Thanksgiving,  and in 2009 a number of major Canadian retailers had their own Black Friday promotions in order to discourage shoppers from crossing the border.

Boxing Day is also a big sporting day around the globe and in both England and Scotland, it is traditional for the Premier League and Scottish Premier League respectively, as well as the lower divisions and Rugby Football  leagues, to hold a full program of football and Rugby matches on Boxing Day. Traditionally matches on Boxing Day are played against local rivals. This was originally to avoid teams and their fans having to travel a long distance to an away game on the day after Christmas Day. It also makes the day an important one in the sporting calendar.

In horse racing, there is the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park Racecourse in Surrey which is the second most prestigious chase in England, after the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The association of Boxing Day with sport in early village celebrations has led to the folk etymology that Boxing Day is traditionally associated with boxing , although the word box can mean a gift or gratuity, especially one given at Christmas, especially in Britain.

Australia holds the first day of the Boxing Day Test match  in Melbourne at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the start to the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

It’s a big day…but in our household we tend to just take it easy…relax with  book, watch a movie and enjoy a glass of wine or two… what’s your like?

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