What exactly is Boxing Day?

Dec 13th, 2000, 06:43 AM
  #1  
Joe
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What exactly is Boxing Day?

I have noticed over the years that the day after Christmas is a holiday called Boxing Day (in A,C,NZ,UK as the calendar people put it). I've asked several people over the years what the significance of this day was, but I've never received the same answer twice, so I'm hoping that someone from A,C,NZ,UK can give me an accurate description of what this day is celebrating.
Thanks in advance.
 
Dec 13th, 2000, 06:59 AM
  #2  
angela
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Joe
Boxing day is a public holiday in the Uk and Commonwealth countries. It is celebrated on Dec 26th, but if this date falls on the Saturday or Sunday then the public holiday is on the next Monday.
It stems from olden times (?when) when the rich and the church would give gifts of money to their servants and the poor and needy. These became known as Christmas boxes - hence Boxing Day.
 
Dec 13th, 2000, 07:01 AM
  #3  
SharonM
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My understanding is that Boxing Day is the day after Christmas when, traditionally, the servants/waitstaff got the day off and were presented gifts from their employers, as they would have had to work on Christmas Day.
(?)
 
Dec 13th, 2000, 07:18 AM
  #4  
Tony Hughes
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Think Christmas day without the angst of present giving.
 
Dec 13th, 2000, 07:55 AM
  #5  
Lidija
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Here in Canada it now means a day off and big Boxing Day sales at all the stores. You think the crowds are bad on the 24th there nothing in comparison to the 26th.
 
Dec 13th, 2000, 11:03 AM
  #6  
elvira
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OK I have to confess that years ago, when I was an adolescent, I thought that Boxing Day was set aside for just that - heavyweights duking it out (allright allright it's my father's fault - he made me watch Friday Night at the Fights with him when I was really little). And you can just imagine what I pictured when I first heard the phrase "Boxer Rebellion".
 
Dec 13th, 2000, 02:26 PM
  #7  
Joanna
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I'm sure Angela is correct, as the entire population is involved - either giving or receiving. If it was just something between wealthy families and their servants I don't think it would have become the holiday it is today. May be worth checking out if you have a
"Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable".
 
Dec 13th, 2000, 02:37 PM
  #8  
rand
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I remember hearing about the servants having a celebration including feasting on the christmas leftovers.
 
Dec 13th, 2000, 02:55 PM
  #9  
Judy
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Well Elvira, I was REALLY little too!
;-).....Was it Gillette that sponsored that show? I can hear that tune now...Thanks for tweeking that memory...As for Boxing Day, I think of shop till you drop???? Probably not right, Hmmmm?
 
Dec 13th, 2000, 08:13 PM
  #10  
elvira
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Yup, Gillette and Reingold Beer sponsored Friday Night at the Fights. Black and white TV (like a 12" screen) in a totally dark room except for the "TV light" on top of the set (ours was black ceramic horses with a 4 watt bulb). Saw Marciano, Robinson and Graziano fight - and I'm pretty sure Patterson, too. Molded my entire life.
 
Dec 14th, 2000, 07:38 AM
  #11  
Joe
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In the US, if Christmas falls on a weekend, most of us will get either Friday or Monday off. Do countries that celebrate Boxing Day then get an additional day off as well? Maybe the U.S. should adopt this holiday. We can box up all of the 'stuff' we never use, and donate it to people/countries that really need it (although, who really NEEDS a Ronco Salad Shooter!).
 
Dec 14th, 2000, 08:03 AM
  #12  
rand
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Yes, I can just picture the delight on the face of a starving Biafran/Ethiopian upon opening a box containing a 'Ronco salad shooter'.
 
Dec 14th, 2000, 08:11 AM
  #13  
Karen
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My Irish husband says the signficance of Boxing Day is that you eat the exact same meal that you ate on Christmas Day. Not leftovers, but a whole new meal. Hey, no one ever accused the Irish of being logical.
 
Dec 14th, 2000, 10:31 AM
  #14  
elizabeth
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Joe - in Canada if Christmas falls on Saturday and Boxing Day on Sunday most people get the Monday and Tuesday off. (Plus most companies close down early on the Friday). I lived in the States years ago and could never get used to going to work the day after Christmas - too much indulgence the night before, I'm afraid!
 
Dec 14th, 2000, 11:16 AM
  #15  
Ryn
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Well, in Catholic Ireland it is properly St. Stephen's Day. Extra points if you know what a "Wren Boy" is.

Actually, as I was taught the tradition, the 'boxes' in question were not only servants' annual bonuses, but also the poor boxes in churches. They were traditionally opened on the day after Christmas (perhaps because they tended to be full then?)
 
Dec 14th, 2000, 11:37 AM
  #16  
Sheila
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During Penal Times there was once a plot in a vilage against the local soldiers. They were surrounded and were about to be ambushed when a group of wrens pecked on their drums and awakened the soldiers. The plot failed and the wren became known as 'The Devil's bird'.

On St. Stephens day a procession takes place where a pole with a holly bush is carried from house to house and families dress up in old clothes and with blackened faces. In olden times an actual wren would be killed and placed on top of the pole.

This custom has to a large degree disappeared but the tradition of visiting from house to house on St. Stephens Day has survived and is very much part of Christmas.

Actually I didn't know, but it's amazing what you can find on the Internet!!
 
Dec 14th, 2000, 02:51 PM
  #17  
Cathy
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Sheilia,
That is an excellent description of Boxing Day or we in Ireland refer the 26th to - St Stephen's Day. It is a national holiday (and the same applies as to Christmas Day - if it falls on a weekend day then you get a week day off in lieu - ditto for all public holidays falling on weekends). The Hunting of the Wren is traditionally held on St Stephen's Day. The wren was considered the king of the birds and part of the old year which needed to be dispensed with. In Ireland in rural areas and particularly where I live in the midlands it is tradition to dress up in old costumes and go on the "Wran" ie the Wren - people head around the countryside singing and entertaining poeple in their homes (and consuming food and drink). It is a big visiting day where people visit extended family. Nowadays money raised by the Wren groups is donated to charity or a local community fundraising effort.

But prior to the 26th there are many traditions. The Irish word for Christmas is Nollaig which comes from the Latin word natalica meaning birthday. It is a religious festive with families attending midnight mass on the 24th before heading home to open the presents. Old tradition include placing a lighted candle on window sills on Christmas Eve as a symbol of welcome to Mary and Joseph and placing holly wreaths on doors to marking the continuity of life.

December 12th is known as Nollaig na mBan or Women's Christmas. On this day, Fairy Cakes, buttercakes flavoured with orange rinds, vanilla, raisins and sugar, were eaten as they were thought to heal the sick, enable people to see fairies and promote fertility.


Going to the Horses Races is also a big tradition in Ireland on the 26th and so if you plan to be in Ireland do head off to the Races. The Great Christmas Sales also start on the 26th - and it is amazng to see how something that cost 50 Irish pounds ont he 24th can now be sold for 20 (and it isn't just the Christmassy things either - great value in clothes etc)

For a great account of a traditional rural Christmas in Ireland you read Alice Taylor - The Night before Christmas - think the publisher is Brandon Press. It is an account of Christmas in the 1940s-1950s but alot of what she writes about is still true.

Finally Nollge Sonna (Happy Christmas)and thanks for all the travel tips in 2000 and may Santa fulfill you all travel wishes this festive season,

Cathy
 
Dec 26th, 2000, 07:05 AM
  #18  
Joe
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This was in today's Washington Post. Happy Boxing Day to those who celebrate it!
http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/art...2000Dec25.html
 

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