I have often thought that BOXING DAY would be a great holiday! My brother Les said, "You already do it because you're outside the stores waiting for them to open at 6:00 AM!"
BOXING DAY IN THE UNITED KINGDOM
Boxing Day in the United Kingdom is the day after Christmas Day and falls on December 26. Traditionally, it was a day when employers distributed money, food, cloth (material) or other valuable goods to their employees. In modern times, it is an important day for sporting events and the start of the post-Christmas sales.
WHAT DO PEOPLE DO?
For many people Boxing Day is a time to recover from the excesses of Christmas day and an opportunity to spend time with family, friends, and neighbors. Some people choose to go for a walk in the countryside, while other flock to the post-Christmas sales in large stores that often begin on Boxing Day. Some people even spend part of the night and early morning queuing to get into the stores when the best bargains are still available.
Boxing Day is also an important day for sports events. Traditionally, using dogs to hunt for foxes was a popular sport amongst the upper classes. Pictures of hunters on horseback dressed in red coats and surrounded by hunting dogs are often seen as symbolic of Boxing Day. Nowadays, fox hunting is outlawed. Horse racing and football (soccer) are now popular sports.
Boxing Day is a bank holiday. If Boxing Day falls on a Saturday, the following Monday is a bank holiday. If Christmas Day falls on a Saturday, the following Monday and Tuesday are bank holidays. All schools and many organizations are closed in this period. Some may close for the whole week between Christmas and New Year.
Many stores are open and now start their post-Christmas sales on Boxing Day. This makes December 26 a very important day for many retailers. Many public transport services run on special timetables. Many people travel to visit family or friends in this period, so bus, plane and train services can be very busy.
BACKGROUND AND SYMBOLS
There are a number of stories behind the origin of the term "Boxing Day". It used to be customary for employers to give their employees or servants a gift of money or food in a small box on this day. This is still customary for people who deliver letters or newspapers, although the gift may be given before Christmas Day. In feudal times, the lord of the manor would gather all those who worked on his land together on this day and distribute boxes of practical goods, such as agricultural tools, food and cloth. This was payment for the work that they had done throughout the passed year.
Other stories relate to servants being allowed to take a portion of the food left over from the Christmas celebrations in a box to their families and the distribution of alms from the Church collection box to poor parishioners. These traditions have evolved into the Christmas hampers that many large employers distribute, although these are now often distributed in the week before Christmas.