Today (December 26) is Boxing Day, aka St Stephen’s Day for most countries in the Commonwealth! Though our neighbours to the South in the US don’t recognise it, it has been an important part of the holidays for all of my life!
“Some historians attribute the name to the parish church alms box, which was opened on Christmas and distributed to the poor, but most believe that the origin of the term lies in the earthenware boxes for gratuities kept by medieval servants and apprentices. Since the Middle Ages it was the custom during the Christmas season for English season to solicit tips from those people with whom their employer did business.” (27) In the nineteenth century, employers began giving servants Boxing Day off; in Canada we still have it off to this day!
For us now, Boxing Day is synonymous with sale shopping. Americans have Black Friday, we have Boxing Day. The day after Christmas people rush to stores and malls to spend their giftcards for merchandise upwards of 50% off; some will even line up at stores at 2am to get door-crasher sales that open at 6am. I personally have never been that dedicated and haven’t ever found anything particularly good on Boxing Day; I’m not willing to fight through crowds. Bargains are to be had, though!
Do you have any Boxing Day traditions??
Once again, all information is from The World Encyclopedia of Christmas, by Gerry Bowler.
Bowler, Gerry. The World Encyclopedia of Christmas. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 2000.