This family has a new tradition: Boxing Day. The fact that the USA doesn’t celebrate this is a shame. We are looking forward to bringing this one back with us! Maybe we can start a new trend!
Boxing Day, for us, was a lazy day. We spent the day at home, sleeping late and playing with the games and toys we discovered on Christmas Day. When we did venture out to the park to watch the kids ride their new scooters, we found quiet streets and only a few people out and about. The local stores (though they had been quite busy just a few days before) were either closed or open only limited hours. Those that weren’t shuttered weren’t accepting Christmas returns. It seemed that they were only open for those few necessities. For us, it was a day to spend with family in a relaxed and festive atmosphere.
We got curious about Boxing Day and its origins. When we asked our English friends, most related a customary history related to wealth and aristocracy and their servants. They told us that Boxing Day was the day that the servants would receive their Christmas gifts from their employers. Additionally, it was used as the servants’ day off since they had to work on Christmas to serve the wealthy. There is also a tradition of holding a fox hunt on Boxing Day. However, we saw not a fox, hound, or heard the horn sound.
However, I was curious to see if there was more. Certainly the whole nation wasn’t tied up in a servant/superior relationship, was it? Could there be another origin as well?
While one couldn’t deny this explanation, there are other possibilities that could have contributed to Boxing Day customs. In the Church calendar, 26 December is the Feast of St. Stephen. You can find Stephen’s story in the Book of Acts, Chapters 6 and 7. Stephen was one who was selected to take care of the widows and others who could not otherwise take care of themselves. He was martyred for his faith; the first recorded to lose his life for the sake of Jesus Christ. Many, I learned, have taken the day after Christmas to serve as Stephen did. They have used it as an opportunity to give Alms for the poor: to give a box of money or goods for the care for others. There’s another good lesson to remember during Christmas.
We have received several new opportunities for traditions to adopt. We look forward to implementing what we’ve learned from these experiences for years to come.
Merry Christmas (and Happy Boxing Day) from Durham, England!