Saturday, December 26, 2020

Today is Boxing Day and you may have no idea what that means

If you're a reader of this blog who lives in (or originates from) a country within the British Commonwealth, you almost certainly know that today is Boxing Day, and you know specifically what that means. You may even celebrate it.

If, like me, you are an American, there's some chance you have heard the term "Boxing Day," but a much smaller chance you have any idea what it signifies.

I am an Anglophile, springing largely as I do from English, Welsh, and Scotch-Irish stock. There's German in me (my paternal grandmother's maiden name was Spitznogel, for crying out loud), but I consider myself to be of British descent.

So I have made a point of at least knowing what Boxing Day is, even if I have never technically celebrated it.

Actually, it's easier to start with what it isn't: It isn't about punching someone, and it isn't about throwing away the boxes from all of the gifts my Christian friends and I opened yesterday. 

I will rely on the good people at to tell us what it is about:

One idea is that December 26 was the day centuries ago when lords of the manor and aristocrats typically distributed “Christmas boxes” often filled with small gifts, money and leftovers from Christmas dinner to their household servants and employees, who were required to work on December 25, in recognition of good service throughout the year. These boxes were, in essence, holiday bonuses. Another popular theory is that the Boxing Day moniker arose from the alms boxes that were placed in churches during the Advent season for the collection of monetary donations from parishioners. Clergy members distributed the contents of the boxes to the poor on December 26, which is also the feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr and a figure known for acts of charity. (Ireland celebrates December 26 as St. Stephen’s Day.)

Either way, it's a holiday that seems to have good intentions.

Since it falls on a Saturday this year, apparently the countries that observe Boxing Day as federal holidays will officially observe it this Monday the 28th.

In Ireland and many other countries, they also consider today to be a holiday, but they refer to it as St. Stephen's Day.

I don't expect any of this to affect your life. At least not right now. But one day, when you find yourself on Jeopardy and the question comes up, you will answer correctly and have me to thank for it. A little tip of $5 or $10 for the assist would be appreciated.

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