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What is Boxing Day

Suprita Biswas Dec 17, 2018
The annual Boxing Day is a fun-filled holiday celebrated on the 26th of December. Some people must be unaware of exactly what is boxing day, how it came into being and how is it celebrated. Let's find out a little more about this very special day.
The term Boxing Day sounds like a day for all the boxers, wearing their boxers, planning to have a boxer's party or something...Jokes apart, we really wonder why 26th of December, the day after Christmas, has such a weird name, since the day has nothing to do with the boxers and their boxing abilities.
Boxing Day, also known as St. Stephen's Day, is basically a day post-Christmas, celebrated in Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It is a public holiday and a non-working day.
However, if the Boxing Day falls on a Saturday, the upcoming Monday is announced as a holiday too. If it is on Sunday, the upcoming Monday as well as Tuesday can be declared holidays. However, this fact is only applicable to some of the countries following the tradition of Boxing Day.

The Day of Sharing: Boxing Day

A day of sharing, caring and loving, it is one such opportunity when the more 'affluent in society' get a chance to thank the people who serve them. It is a token of gratitude or you can say, a way of expressing acknowledgment for their service.
Though Christmas gifts are exchanged among the 'equal in status' before or on the day of Christmas, graces for the people less fortunate are made on the day after. The gifts can consist of food, money or other household items that are given to house servants and other public tradesmen like postmen, valets, garbage collectors and dustmen.

History of Boxing Day

According to sayings, the history of Boxing Day dates back to many centuries, when merchants distributed boxes of fruits and other goods to their tradesmen and servants as a tip for assistance. Though nothing substantial is known about the history, it seems to have originated in the nineteenth century in England.
  • Homemade Fruit Basket
Now the question arises, why is boxing day called boxing day? Some historians presume that the day is called Boxing Day as boxes made of wood or clay ( known as alms boxes) were placed in churches where worshipers left money and gifts throughout the year, and these boxes were opened on this day and the contents were distributed amongst the poor and needy.
  • Monetary Gifts
We know that since the household workers and maids go out of their way and put in all their efforts in making the Christmas party a great success for their employers, it was but a small return to give them off the next day. These helpers were provided with gifts and tokens while they visited their family and friends. This way the 'day of gratitude' was born.
As the other name suggests, the feast of St. Stephen also happens to take place on this day. It is said that St. Stephen was one of the seven original deacons of the Christian Church. He became successful as a preacher quite rapidly and became very popular.
His devotion to Christ was also known to be very pure. However, a mob stoned him to death and he was known to have begged for mercy from God for those who were about to kill him. Like his Lord, Christ, he too asked God for forgiveness for his killers.

What is Boxing Day All About

Boxing day has always been celebrated with loads of fun and frolic. It is a day of fox-hunting and other sport activities. It is a fun escapade as people get together and share memorable moments with their loved ones.
Shopping has been a major part of Boxing Day celebrations as shop owners open their stores with a welcoming 'New Year's sale' early in the morning. People stand in lines all night to be the first one to swoop the best deals.
Wren hunting is another tradition that is a part of the Boxing Day celebrations. A group of boys known as 'Wren boys' would hunt a wren and then tie the dead bird to a high twig or pole. It was decorated with ribbons and holy sprigs. They would sing aloud and ask for money, food and gifts. People who gave money got a feather of the bird as an appreciation.
It was kind of fun activity and the boys had a great time singing;

"The wren, the wren, the king of all birds
On St Stephen's Day was caught in the furze,
We hunted him far and hunted him near
And found him under the bushes here.
Hurrah, my boys, hurrah!
Hurrah, my boys, hurrah!
Knock at the knocker and ring at the bell,
And give us a copper for singing so well."
The philanthropic Christmas tradition of giving gifts and money to helpers and household staff still continues, and business houses also grant bonuses and other privileges to their employees. Schools collect money and gifts and send them to other neighboring poor countries.

What All Can be Done on Boxing Day?

Since Boxing Day is a great event in itself and adds grace to the festive mood, why not do some really interesting things that would exhilarate you.
The best way to celebrate the day is of course by sharing your happiness with the most deserved. One must never forget to share God's blessings with his servants and other people who provide everyday help. The feeling of joy and fulfillment is incomparable and irreplaceable and cannot be achieved through anything else.
We must endeavor to take out some time to visit organizations which support the poor. Though for us, it would be a little effort, the return would be a bagful of blessings.
Since tradition carries sports to be one of the major Boxing Day activities, indulging into one is a very good idea. In England, one will have innumerable choices like horse racing, football games, regattas, Swimming Club's annual dip into the English Channel and many more.
Shopping and having fun with family must be in the list of activities. Spending quality time with your people, be it at home or somewhere outside, is of utmost importance for maintaining the strength of relationships.
For people living in London, there are countless places that are kept open for visitors like museums, wildlife sanctuaries and other attractions. You can visit places like Charles Dickens Museum, Brunel Museum, The Movieum of London, Sherlock Holmes Museum, Royal Academy of Arts and Royal Academy Burlington Gardens.
Interesting places like Madame Tussaud's, Shakespeare's Globe, Ripley's Believe It or Not and London Eye are the most visited. My favorites, however, will always be the aquariums and wildlife centers namely, Sea Life London Aquarium, London Wetland Centre, London Zoo and the Kew Gardens.
"Happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness; it has no taste." ~ Charlotte Brontë
Many great people have stressed upon the need for sharing, caring and giving, those who have been deprived of all that we have got. This very special day, gives us an opportunity to give back to the society, what has lovingly showered upon us. The true spirit of the day must never be lost and followed to give us inspiration. May the Lord be with all!