What is Boxing Day?
26 December is celebrated as The Second Day of Christmas in most European countries.
Boxing Day is a bank or public holiday that occurs on December 26, or the first or second weekday after Christmas Day, depending on national or regional laws. It is observed in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and some other Commonwealth nations. In Ireland, it is recognized as St. Stephen’s Day or the Day of the Wren (Irish: Lá an Dreoilín). In South Africa, Boxing Day was renamed Day of Goodwill in 1994.
The Feast of St. Stephen also takes place on December 26. St. Stephen was one of the seven original deacons of the Christian Church who were ordained by the Apostles to care for widows and the poor. For the success of his preaching and his devotion to Christ, St. Stephen was stoned to death by a mob. As he died, he begged God not to punish his killers.
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.
In the UK, it was a custom for tradesmen to collect “Christmas boxes” of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year. This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys’ diary entry for 19 December 1663; This custom is linked to an older 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). Wikipedia
I guess we can easily celebrate Boxing Day here unofficially. It seems that the spirit of the holiday is to give to the needy. Conveniently, the kids will have received piles of presents thus making their old toys and books less desirable. We have a small house so we need to purge when a pile of new stuff comes in.
Why not? … spend a few hours with your kids figuring out what they can part with and then donating it to a shelter or a charity? Gently used clothing, books and perhaps even toys (though some charities are wary of toys because of lead paint and other recalls). Call it Boxing Day and make it a family holiday of giving!
How about you? How do you celebrate Boxing Day? Please share!