Are You Familiar With 'Boxing Day'?
Who Celebrates Boxing Day?
Most people know of December 24th - Christmas Eve - and December 25th - Christmas Day - but if you live in the United States or another country in which the 26th or December is not celebrated, chances are, you don't know what Boxing Day is. Before continuing this Hub, I have to mention that Boxing Day is NOT a day to observe the sport of boxing. That's usually what people assume when I tell them about the Holiday.
Since moving to America at the age of 7, every year on December 26th, I'm sure to yell, "Happy Boxing Day!" to what ever family member is around to hear, despite our failure to actually celebrate the post-Christmas event.
Boxing Day is celebrated in the Commonwealth of Nations, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Neatherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Greenland, Hong Kong, Ghana, Nigeria. Kenya, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana and Jamaica.
Boxing Day is also celebrated in South Africa but is known as the Day of Goodwill. In some parts of the US - states close to the Canadian border - Boxing day is well known but is not an official holiday.
Okay... but WHAT is Boxing Day?
Boxing Day is also known as the Feast of St. Stephen which began in England during the reign of Queen Victoria. St. Stephen was a Christian martyr and one of the seven original deacons of the Christian Church. He was designated to care for the poor and for widows. However, St. Stephen was stoned to death. Boxing Day was initially celebrated in commemoration of St. Stephen.
The holiday was for merchant class people who gave away boxes, to servants and other people, of clothing, money, food and fruit - an expression of gratitude; something similar to a 'bonus.'
During Christmastime, Churches used to open alms boxes to be given out by the clergy to the poor the day after Christmas.
As time - and years - progressed, Boxing Day became a time for family and friends. During the holiday, people gather to play sports. Soccer, horse racing and hunting are especially popular during this time in the locations where Boxing Day is celebrated.
Boxing Day Sales
In Canada, the biggest sales occur during boxing day. Boxing Day is also a shopping holiday in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. It is similar to Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales in the United States.
My Personal Experience
As I mentioned before, Boxing Day has become a holiday for family and friends. I'm not sure about other countries, but in Trinidad, on December 26, we travel through our neighbourhoods or perhaps just to other friends' homes and carry a dish. It's a little like a potlock - we all chip in to create a meal and we may even end up eating at more than one person's home.
In America, Thanksgiving is the holiday that has the largest feast. In Trinidad, Christmas and Boxing Day produces the largest feasts. It's really a fun-filled day of getting closer to family and friends, enjoying each other's company and good food as well.
For years, my family has not celebrated Boxing Day but now that I've written this Hub, I should consider reviving my native tradition. Boxing Day is really fun... I have to mention it again. So this year, on December 26th, don't forget to wish a friend or a loved one a Happy Boxing Day.