Today is Boxing Day. No, it has nothing to do with the sport of fighting with the fists. If you take a look at the “Word of the Day” in the Oxford English Dictionary for Saturday, December 26th (it is exactly below the labels cloud in this blog) you will find “Christmas Box”:
A box, usually of earthenware, in which contributions of money were collected at Christmas, by apprentices, etc.; the box being broken when full, and the contents shared.
So, the name Boxing Day derives from the tradition of giving seasonal gifts, on the day after Christmas, to less wealthy people and social inferiors, which was later extended to various workpeople such as labourers and servants.
The traditional recorded celebration of Boxing Day has long included giving money and other gifts to charitable institutions, the needy and people in service positions. The European tradition has been dated to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown and there are some claims that it goes back to the late Roman / early Christian era.
In the United Kingdom it certainly became a custom of the nineteenth century Victorians for tradesmen to collect their “Christmas boxes” or gifts in return for good and reliable service throughout the year on the day after Christmas.
As they do not celebrate Epiphany (The 3 Wise Men or Magi) as we do in Spain, among the British and some other English-speaking countries Boxing Day is primarily known as a shopping holiday: January sales, often with dramatic price decreases, start on this day. For many merchants, Boxing Day has become the day of the year with the greatest revenue (much as the day after Thanksgiving in the United States: Black Friday).
If you want to know more: Elaine’s Boxing Day Page
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