Monday, December 26
The Tradition Of Today Being Boxing Day
Today, the 26th of December, is known as Boxing Day in Britain and in a few other countries as well. It is what we call a Bank Holiday (a normal working day when the banks are closed) but would be called a Public Holiday in other parts of the world.
How Boxing Day came about is not absolutely clear. The most popular thought is that this was the day when servants and tradesmen would collect their Christmas Boxes - i.e.money tips for good service - from the gentry or their employers. These money gifts or 'boxes' were mentioned in Samuel Pepys' diary entry for December 19th 1663, so the tradition goes way back.
In days of old the churches would have a box in which to place contributions for the poor at their Christmas Day services. These boxes were then opened on the 26th for distribution to the needy.
Another explanation for Boxing Day dates back to when sailing ships set off to discover far away lands. They would take with them a sealed box full of money as a good luck talisman, to help keep them safe on their voyages. When they returned safely a church service of thanks would be held and the box was presented to the vicar or priest.
This box would be kept until Christmas when the contents would be shared with the poor.
I personally look at Boxing Day as being family time, though often sport is involved. In the UK there is a full programme of sport including the top football (soccer) clubs. I remember going to matches at the London clubs: Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, with my father when I was young.
One of the traditional events (unfortunately) in England is the Boxing Day Fox Hunting. In 2005 hunting, however, with dogs become a criminal offence but the hunts still go ahead where the scent of a fox is followed.
I have to admit that this is quite a sight with the riders in their red jackets, the sound of horns blowing, the dogs and the horses in splendid condition. It's a actually one of my very first memories.
I believe I was three years old and at Christmas we were staying in a country location with friends of my parents. The Fox Hunt started from where the cottage we were staying was situated. I remember distinctly the horses and dogs, the colour and all of the excitement. Back then I didn't, of course, realise that the idea was to kill the foxes with the dogs tearing them to pieces - something truly horrific in my eyes today.
Today I'm with my family, what could be more perfect? I hope you are having a perfect day too.
Oh yes, and now Boxing Day is when the sales start in most of the shops. The January Sales come early. Commercialism has taken over. Once it was simply family, sports and thinking about those less fortunate than ourselves, but now it's greedily shopping for supposed bargains. What skewed priorities we have.