I’m too late to wish everyone merriness for Christmas, Hanukah, the Solstice, Kwanzaa, and no doubt many other December holidays, but I’m just in time for Boxing Day. The day after Christmas is celebrated by most countries in the Commonwealth—historically, by charitable giving. Today, though, it seems to be mostly about resting from the Christmas frenzy, and shopping. It’s a mystery why Americans haven’t adopted it.
The origins of Boxing Day are shrouded in mystery. One theory says that “Good King Wenceslas” was out surveying his land on St. Stephen’s Day — Dec. 26 — when he saw a poor man collecting wood in a snowstorm. Moved, the King gathered surplus food and wine and carried them through the blizzard to the peasant’s door, thus institutionalizing a tradition of alms-giving.
A second theory is that during Advent, Anglican parishes collected donations in a box, which was broken open the day after Christmas and its contents distributed among the poor. Also on the day after Christmas, the aristocracy traditionally distributed presents (boxes) to servants and employees.
Boxing Day has been a national holiday in England, Wales, Ireland, and Canada since 1871. Boxing Day fox hunts were held all over the English countryside for hundreds of years, but in 2005 Parliament banned the traditional method of using dogs to kill the prey. Hundreds of thousands of people still turn out at Boxing Day fox hunts around Britain.
The Irish refer to the holiday as St. Stephen’s Day, or Wren Day, which supposedly commemorates the Battle of Kinsale in 1601. The Irish tried to sneak up on the English invaders, but were betrayed by the song of a wren. Most historians find this story to be an excellent example of the Irish story-telling tradition.
The Bahamas celebrate Boxing Day with a street parade and festival called Junkanoo, in which traditional rhythmic dancers called gombeys, wearing elaborate costumes and headdresses, fill the streets.
So, my friends, have fun: hunt for a fox, parade with a wren, dance down the street, or even watch a bit of football on TV. It’s Boxing Day!
Thanks to Time Newsfeed for the info.