Boxing Day, or the Feast of St. Stephen, is the holiday that occurs the day after Christmas each year in countries around the world, specifically those that are or have been a part of the British Empire. It encompasses a body of traditions, ranging from ice hockey matches to the appreciation of employees
Boxing Day falls on December 26, 2013.
Boxing Day is traditionally the day following Christmas Day, when servants and tradespeople would receive gifts from their superiors or employers. Today, Boxing Day is better known as a bank or public holiday that occurs on 26 December, or the first or second weekday after Christmas Day, depending on national or regional laws. It is observed in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and some other Commonwealth nations.
Possible origins for the name “Boxing Day”:
1. A ‘Christmas Box’ in Britain is a name for a Christmas present.
2. Boxing Day was a day off for servants and when they received a ‘Christmas Box’ from the master. The servants would also go home to give ‘Christmas Boxes’ to their families.
3. Many Ships when setting sail would have a sealed box containing money on board for good luck. If the voyage were a success the box was given to a priest, opened at Christmas and the contents given to the poor.
In Canada, Boxing Day takes place on 26 December and is a federal public holiday. In Ontario, Boxing Day is a statutory holiday where all full-time workers receive time off with pay.
What used to be a day of relaxation and family time, like the day after Thanksgiving in many countries (Black Friday), Boxing Day has transformed into a day where people go shopping. Stores all over the world drop their prices on Dec. 26 on Christmas items, selling them at highly discounted rates. Other stores began to participate, and now it has become one of the most highly participated in shopping events on the annual calendar.
Because Boxing Day is an annual business and bank holiday in Canada, many families will take the day to spend time with their loved ones or go shopping. But many others will go to the Ice Hockey Games all over the country. Ice Hockey on Boxing Day is what Football is to the United States in Thanksgiving. The holiday simply wouldn’t be the same without it.
In modern times, Boxing Day is a national holiday and another day to spend with family and friends and eating up the leftovers. Until 2004, Boxing Day was the day of the Fox Hunt in Great Britain. Men would dress in ornate red hunting jackets and take their hounds into the forests. But the use of hounds was outlawed, and now Boxing Day in England is much more of a shopping/relaxation day.
In Ireland it is recognized as St. Stephen’s Day or the Day of the Wren.
St Stephen was stoned to death for believing in Jesus. This led to the development of a group of men known as the “Wren Boys.” To commemorate the martyring of St. Stephen, they would go out and stone Wrens to death. Then they carry their catch around the town knocking at doors and asking for money. Although Wrens are no longer victims on Boxing Day, the Wren Boys will still dress up in black and parade through town, collecting money for charity.
In South Africa, Boxing Day was renamed to Day of Goodwill in 1994. It is a designated day for families to spend additional time together and to give money to the poor. The Day after Christmas is considered to be a time of affluence and plenty, and so it is customary for individuals to give alms to those who have little, as an act of Goodwill and thankfulness.
In the Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, Austria, Germany, Scandinavia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and Greece, Boxing Day is celebrated as the Second Christmas Day, a day of relaxation and enjoying
Good King Wenceslas
Boxing Day is featured in the Christmas carol that tells a story of Good King Wenceslas braving harsh winter weather to give alms to a poor peasant on the Feast of St. Stephen. The legend is based on the life of the historical Saint Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia