Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Boxing Day


Greetings, dear readers.  I hope the Christmas break was joyous and peaceful.  As we start the countdown to the new year, here is a bit of trivia for Boxing Day . . .



Boxing Day is the day after Christmas Day but is not celebrated as a holiday in all countries. Having originated in the United Kingdom, it is celebrated in a number of countries that previously formed part of the British Empire.


The name Boxing Day has nothing to do with pugilism or of ridding the house of Christmas packaging from the day before.  Instead the name harks back to the age old British practice of giving cash or durable goods to those of the lower classes. Gifts among equals were exchanged on or before Christmas Day but generosity to  those less fortunate happened the day after.  But why Boxing Day.  There are several theories:

-  That members of the merchant class gave boxes of food and fruit to tradespeople and servants the day after Christmas in an ancient form of Yuletide tip.

-  That the day after Christmas the lord of the manor gave his serfs anr annual allotment of practical goods, such as spun cloth, leather goods, durable food supplies and tools. As to who received what depended on the status of the worker and family size. These were not gifts but allocated entitlements and were distributed in boxes.

-  That servants in Britain carried boxes to their masters when they arrived for work the day after Christmas Day, it being a tradition that at on this day all employers would put coins in the boxes as a special end-of-year gift, akin to an early form of Christmas bonus

-  That church boxes with donations for the were opened on Christmas Day and the contents distributed by the clergy the following day.
The theme common to all these theories is of persons of lesser standing being gifted or allocated benefits via boxes.  There was no gift in return to the superiors, that would presume to be a presumptuous act of equality.


The Christmas bonus gift box for tradies is mentioned in Samuel Pepys' diary entry for 19 December 1663: “. . . thence by coach to my shoemaker’s and paid all there, and gave something to the boys’ box against Christmas.”


Saint Stephen's Day, or the Feast of Saint Stephen, is a Christian saint's day to commemorate Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr, and is celebrated on 26 December in the Latin Church and 27 December in Eastern Christianity.  The name may be familiar from the carol:  “Good King Wenceslas looked out on the Feast of Stephen…” Saint Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia (907–935) was a saintly king who went out in a storm to give a poor man not just the bare minimum of fuel, but also a feast. As he and his servant brave the elements, the King is so pious that even his footsteps give off enough heat to warm his cold and tiring page.  Hence the Boxing Day tradition of giving probably built on the actions and commemorations of Saint Stephen and King Wenceslas.



In the UK, Boxing Day is a bank holiday (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland since 1871). When 26 December falls on a Saturday, the Boxing Day public holiday is moved to the substitute day, which is the following Monday. If 26 December falls on a Sunday, the substitute public holiday is the following Tuesday.



In Australia, Boxing Day is a federal public holiday. The Australian state of South Australia instead observes a public holiday known as Proclamation Day on the first weekday after Christmas Day or the Christmas Day holiday.


In Canada, Boxing Day is a federal statutory holiday. Government offices, banks and post offices/delivery are closed. In some Canadian provinces, Boxing Day is a statutory holiday that is always celebrated on 26 December. In Canadian provinces where Boxing Day was a statutory holiday, and it falls on a Saturday or Sunday, compensation days are given in the following week.



While not generally observed in the United States, on 5 December 1996, Massachusetts Gov. William F. Weld declared 26 December as Boxing Day in Massachusetts, in response to the efforts of a local coalition of British citizens to "transport the English tradition to the United States", but not as an employee holiday.


In the UK, Canada, Australia, Trinidad and Tobago and New Zealand, Boxing Day is primarily known as a shopping holiday, much like Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) in the United States. Boxing Day sales with dramatic price reductions  are common in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.


On Boxing Day 2004 a massive earthquake in the Indian Ocean created a tsunami that killed 275 people.


The Boxing Day Test match is a cricket Test match held in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia involving the Australian cricket team and an opposing national team which is touring Australia during the southern summer. It begins annually on Boxing Day and is played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.


The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race is an annual event hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, starting in Sydney, New South Wales on Boxing Day and finishing in Hobart, Tasmania. The race distance is approximately 630 nautical miles (1,170 km). The race is widely considered to be one of the most difficult yacht races in the world.


Boxing Day is the day that Bytes returned after Christmas this year.


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