It’s over but I’m still puzzled…
I always feel a little sad once Christmas Day turns into the night, and even more sad once Boxing Day has ended. I always think for all the time and effort and expense that Christmas involves, it is over far too quickly. I think nowadays Christmas seems shorter because the shops open again on the 26th December, whereas when I was a child the festive period seemed to last a few days. There didn’t seem the need to have to rush out to the shops to grab a bargain or to buy more food. I mean there were sales back then, certainly in furniture stores, as I remember the adverts on the television, but I don’t recall these mad shopping frenzies occurring the day after Christmas Day like they do now.
I always spend Boxing Day visiting those relatives that I didn’t see on Christmas Day as we take it in turns to see one set of parents each day and then alternate it the following year. This means it is another day of opening more presents from family and of course eating the leftovers and some more chocolates! For other people, Boxing Day marks the return to work, especially if they work in retail. And for some retail mad consumers, it means sales which makes some people face very busy shops in search of some great bargains.
But why is the 26th December known as Boxing Day? Certainly looking around at the piles of Christmas Day rubbish that accumulated from all our presents, I would suggest that maybe Boxing Day was a day to be rid of all of the boxes that presents came in! Although I suspect this is not its true meaning at all, and as I have always wondered why this name was given to the 26th December, I thought I would use the ‘down time’ between Christmas and New Year to Google it and see what came up. This is what I discovered.
• The exact origin of this day is unknown, as is the date when it first started being celebrated. However, there are many theories behind the name and a few common misconceptions include:
o It was a day when boxing matches were held
o It’s named after the empty boxes which are left after all the present opening on Christmas Day, and the need to be rid of them from your home!
o It’s the day when people return unwanted gifts to the shops, carrying boxes out of their homes
o Due to the excess of food we cook on Christmas Day, people used to give away little boxes of leftovers to friends or family the next day
So if it none of these reasons are behind Boxing Day, then what else could be the traditions behind the day?
Some Historians believe that Boxing Day started sometime around the mid nineteenth century in England. It was as a result of the tradition of leaving small ‘boxes’ outside churches in which attendees could leave coins, or ‘alms’ as they were referred to back then, for the needy and the poor inside these boxes. On the 26th December the money would be distributed from the boxes among the deserving parishioners.
Another train of thought is that Boxing Day was established as a holiday to enable the upper classes to hand out gifts to their servants and trades people in the form of money, clothing and food – much like a staff bonus, I suppose. These ‘treats” were given out in boxes hence it was ‘Boxing Day’.
So there you go…….now I know and, you do too. Whatever the reason, I’m just glad of the extra day to make Christmas last that little bit longer!
This little history lesson was brought to you by me, with a little help from some Google elves Happy New Year! (at least that day is self explanatory!)