Monday, December 26, 2011

Today is Boxing Day, December 26th

Today is Boxing Day, a traditional English holiday which extends Christmas giving.

Despite its name, Boxing Day has nothing to do with pugilistic competition. Nor is it a day for people to return unwanted Christmas presents.

Boxing Day began in England during the Middle Ages, and the tradition continued through the Victorian era. Wealthy family households would celebrate Christmas on Christmas day but this meant that their servants had to continue with their normal work and so, in effect, missed out on the celebration. To compensate for this the wealthy families would set aside 26th December as the time for their servant's Christmas.

Work duties would be dropped to a minimum with family members assuming some of the responsibilities of the servants such as keeping the fireplace stocked with coal, greeting visitors themselves and supplying the servants with a good Christmas dinner. The term "Boxing day" refers to the gift that the family gave to each servant - wrapped in box.

In the past people like the postman (mailman), refuse collector and milkman would call at the houses they serviced for a Christmas 'Box' but nowadays they are given a 'tip' when the homeowner sees them.

Even though many no longer remember the traditional reason for Boxing Day it is celebrated in Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

My childhood memories of Boxing Day are that we spent the day together as a family, we relaxed, enjoyed our presents and ate leftovers from the Christmas dinner. Also our dad did not have to go to work on that day.

Boxing Day is just one of the British bank holidays recognized since 1871 that are observed by banks, government offices, and the post office.

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