Happy Boxing Day!
If you are reading in America, you are probably thinking, what?
Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, and other commonwealth countries all celebrate Boxing Day, on the day after Christmas Day. It’s usually a public holiday. That’s why any ex-pats at your office are grumpy today, because everyone back home is still on holiday.
From medieval times in Britain, Christmas Day was a day for church, prayer and celebration of the birth of Jesus. The day after Christmas was the day when wealthy people gave year end gifts to employees and the poor, a forerunner of the Christmas bonus.
Since all the servants had to work to prepare the Christmas feast on Christmas day, they were given the next day off, and their employers distributed food, money, housewares and children’s gifts in boxes, giving the festival the name Boxing Day. It’s nothing to do with Mike Tyson. The tradition was spread from England to the commonwealth nations.
America, despite once being a British colony, abandoned the festival after independence, along with many other British traditions. Perhaps the concept of having staff was felt to be at odds with the country’s new liberty?
Modern British Boxing day celebrations are usually a continuation of Christmas day. More food, more television, and more visiting with relations. It’s become the start date of the January sales, involving world-famous queues outside world-famous London department stores, several major sporting events, and an abhorrent tradition that still persists despite being technically illegal, the Boxing Day Hunts.
Perhaps one of the more bizarre British Boxing Day events is the Boxing Day Dip, a charity event held at many coastal towns in the UK. Participants charge into the sea, usually wearing fancy dress, to raise money for charity. Yes, it’s very, very cold. So you might be reading this at work right now. but at least you didn’t have to go for a swim in the North Sea.
Do you live in a country that celebrates Boxing day? What do you do to celebrate?
Happy Boxing Day!