26 December, 2014

The Reason Why December 26th Is Called Boxing Day

Fox hunting

Today, the 26th of December, is known as Boxing Day in Britain and in several other countries as well.  It is what we call a Bank Holiday (a normal working day when the banks are closed) but no doubt 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 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 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 isusually  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 outside the cottage where we were staying. 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 many of the shops and stores. The January Sales now 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.

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8 comments:

  1. Happy Boxing Day, Mike!
    The first time I heard about this holiday, I thought of the word tenderness. It takes tenderness of heart to give to those needy. Not everyone is so willing. Britain stands above the rest in the realm of sharing. I've been blogging along many years, and it has always been my friends in Britain who've inspired and encouraged my own walk in life. For that I am grateful, and especially grateful for YOUR friendship along the path. Thank you.

    Commercialism will continue no matter what. I find when I tune it out I'm just fine. During the 1980's I found myself slipping down that slope - it's so easy to get caught up in things that we think will make us happy.

    I had a wonderful holiday with family. I'm glad we don't do fox hunts(smile), although the pageantry has always looked impressive to me as well.

    May 2015 bring you many blessings Mike!

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    1. Thank you Dixie, always good to learn from your comments. Wish you every happiness for 2015.

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  2. Happy boxing day! Quite an interesting history about the holiday.
    Hope your day is filled with joy!

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    1. Thanks Trish - it's now the 27th now so, yes, my day was filled with joy!

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  3. Didn't know it was now a criminal offence. Like you, as a kid I loved to see the hunt, but as one becomes older and realises what it's all about, it was pretty horrific. I live in Canada nowadays and they too have Boxing Day which,. as you pointed out, is very commercialised. I used to live in Kent before we emigrated.

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    1. I've even got teapots and other china items from my parents which feature fox hunting. I'm glad it's finished with now though. I was born in west London - Hayes / Hillingdon area but now live in Cornwall.

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    2. Love Cornwall, spent my honeymoon there. I constantly complain about the cream in North America, and Cornish cream is better than I could get in Kent. I was born in Cheshire.

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    3. We had Cornish cream (of course!) with our Christmas mince pies.

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