The day after Christmas, the Day of Goodwill, Saint Stephen’s Day, and the Second Day of Christmastide. These terms all refer to one holiday celebrated in Canada every December 26th—Boxing Day. And no, you don’t do boxing with your family, friends, or foes on Boxing Day. It is not also about trashing the box you opened during Christmas nor something to do with returning your unwanted gifts to the store where you bought them from. If you are interested in Boxing Day, this article will surely answer your questions about this holiday.
Boxing Day originated in England. This country’s former colonies, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, the Bahamans, South Africa, Nigeria, and others, celebrate it.
There are different stories of how Boxing Day came to be. One story says that in the 19th century, December 26th was the time where the lords, aristocrats, and tradesmen distributed “Christmas boxes” to their servants and employees who served them on December 25th. As a token of appreciation for their hard work throughout the year, these boxes were filled with small gifts, money, and sometimes leftover food, serving as holiday bonuses to their servants so that they’d have something to share with their families once they come home.
Another story says that the name Boxing Day came from placing alms boxes in churches during the Advent season to collect monetary collections from the parishioners. The amount collected will then be evenly distributed by the clergy members in the alms boxes, which will be given to the poor on December 26th, the feast for Saint Stephen, the first Chrisitan martyr known for his acts of charity.
Whether theory one or two is the real reason for how Boxing Day got its name, one thing is for sure: the holiday highlights charity by honouring those who serve and who give something to the poor.
At present, Boxing Day is quite far from how it was before. At present, different countries have different ways of observing this holiday. Since Boxing Day is a statutory holiday or a public holiday where there is no work, you will surely enjoy plenty of activities with family and friends to maximize the time.
Here are some of the ways how different countries observe Boxing Day:
During Boxing Day, families in Canada visit different malls to score markdown items. Aside from shopping, families enjoy being together for the holidays doing just about anything. Canadian families usually watch or play ice hockey games live or on TV or go on ice skating during Boxing Day.
Saint Stephen is also a patron saint of horses. That is why, during Boxing Day, two of the popular activities include horse racing and fox hunting. Since killing foxes is largely criminalized, fox hunting is done either by not killing the fox your hounds are catching or by chasing a human substitute instead of a fox.
Like Canada, malls and establishments in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, plus Trinidad and Tobago usually offer dramatic price reductions in their products. Shopping is also a common practice for people living in these countries during Boxing Day.
Boxing Day is Saint Stephen’s Day or Wren Day for the Irish nationals. During this holiday, people dress up in old clothes straw hats, then travel from door to door with fake wrens (instead of killing wrens which was an old practice) on top of a decorated pole. These people dance, sing, and play music.
Wrens were believed to have betrayed the Irish soldiers in the olden times. Because of this legend, homes and businesses give money to the people in costume to avoid bad luck.
In South Africa, Boxing Day is known as the Day of Good Will. Because this is summer in South Africa, non-traditional Christmas activities done during this holiday include going to the beach. Some South African locals also participate or watch boxing matches during this holiday.
Boxing Day in the Bahamas is a weeklong festival that starts at Junkanoo (December 26th) until New Year’s Day (January 1st). During this time, people hold parades with people in colourful, elaborate costumes and masks party at the streets accompanied by loud, lively music.
As mentioned, Boxing Day is a period of extending one’s generosity and charity towards the needy. To stay close to the meaning of this holiday, why not take advantage of shopping for the sale items in the malls and give someone you know or even a stranger a gift that can somehow bring a smile to their faces.
Aside from material gifts, do the province in Canada where you live to consider Boxing Day a non-working, paid holiday? If so, why not spend time with your family and friends doing meaningful activities together? Eat out, cook a meal together and eat at the dining table together, go shopping, play sports, watch movies together, or travel to other counties if possible. If you have distant relatives living in other parts of Canada or the world, why not visit them?
If circumstances don’t allow you to visit your family or friends in other countries, there is a way you can show your generosity and charity this incoming Boxing Day. You can send money from Canada to them through RemitBee. If you are a business owner with a freelance remote worker based outside Canada, why not send a few dollars as a holiday bonus to show how you value the work they do though they’re thousands of miles away from you?
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