Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day

Boxing Day which falls on the 26th December is a public holiday in Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and has nothing to do with pugilism, or getting rid of Christmas wrappings. It was originally a day when alms were distributed to the poor, and servants/employees received gifts in money and kind from their masters.

Alms or poor boxes were placed in every parish church. Traditionally, these were opened the day after Christmas and the money distributed to the poor of the parish.

Household servants were always required to work on Christmas Day, and were given the following day off to spend with their families. It was customary for their employers to give them gifts of money and food.

It was also a time when wealthy estate owners would box up their leftover food, and unwanted gifts, and distribute them among the tenant farmers who worked their land.
All these gifts were usually placed in wooden, or clay boxes, hence the term Boxing Day.

Boxing Day traditions have fallen somewhat by the wayside, today it is seen more as a day for hitting the Christmas sales than for giving to the poor. The original concept, however, has not been totally lost, as it is still customary to tip trades people such as the postman, milkman (yes, we actually get milk delivered to our doorsteps in Britain), newspaper boys and girls, and refuse collectors. Also, many employers do give bonuses to their employees at Christmas. Today though, these tips and bonuses are usually given before Christmas.

Happy Boxing Day everyone.


Lakeland Jo said...

I found that post fascinating. I often hear people saying ' I wonder why it's called....'. Now I can tell them!

pamokc said...

Hi Janet, hope your holidays are going well. We still don't have our cat back but a new round of flyers are going up tomorrow ... this time to convenience stores! Wish I had already thought of that one. Best wishes for 2009

Paula said...

It's great to learn the history behind the name! I think it's neat that milk still gets delivered. We used to have a milk man when I was a kid, and I can still hear the sound of him switching out the bottles on the front step. I loved peeling off the paper lid on the bottle, and spooning off the cream that rose to the top. Yum.

Have a great new year!

Jan said...

A very interesting post Jan!
Sadly, the milkman is getting a rare sight in the UK these days. They just can't keep their prices as low as the big supermarkets.
A very happy new year to you and your family x

britoutofwater said...

You know, I had to look up the explanation on Wikipedia on Boxing Day itself, as halfway through explaining the concept to my American relatives I realised that I had no clear idea myself...!

Happy New Year!

Daffodilly said...

Hey are you ok? I have not seen a new post for a while?