Boxing Day: A Yuletide Tip
Boxing Day, St. Stephen’s Day, Day of the Wren, Second Christmas Day, Day of Goodwill – known by many names in countries around the world, December 26th brings a second day of celebration. Following the traditional Christmas Day, the holiday most commonly known as Boxing Day is a bank holiday – a day when banks and other similar service-based industries are closed, allowing workers an extra day off. Though the holiday has evolved over time, its roots are quite similar to its modern manifestation. Boxing Day gets its name from the practice of giving Christmas boxes filled with food and gifts to servants and tradesmen – something that took place after the members of the upper class had enjoyed a day filled with celebrations (during which many of the service workers hadn’t had a day off)…
While we don’t collectively celebrate Boxing Day in the United States, it is celebrated across Europe and in other parts of the world, including Canada, South Africa, Hong Kong, and New Zealand. Even though you may not have someone nearby celebrating Boxing Day, families can use this celebration in other countries to inspire some new post-Christmas traditions.
Drawing inspiration from the holiday’s roots, use the day after Christmas to show some appreciation for those in service positions who you see regularly. Kids can make thank you cards for the workers who stock shelves and bake bread at the local co-op, bake and deliver cookies to the farmers at a local CSA, or make prayer flags covered with messages of thanks and gratitude for the doctors and nurses working at a local community health center.
Celebrating Boxing Day can be a way to reflect on the role that others have had in the gifts of service families receive throughout the year. We may easily identify food and family as things that we are happy to have, but we don’t often stop to appreciate those who allowed the food to be available to us. To focus your celebrating, choose one thing for which your family is thankful – your pet cat, for example. Then, identify together the things that you need to have in order to keep your cat healthy and happy – like pet food and trips to the vet. Figure out who is involved in providing these supplies and service for you – the technicians and veterinarians at the clinic you visit, the cashier and other workers at the pet supply store, and maybe you can even track down the person who grows the catnip or wheatgrass that you buy for your pet. Find a way to thank them, whether with cards, collages, treats, songs, or just a simple spoken word of thanks – and you’ve brought a small-scale version of Boxing Day to your community!
To learn more about the origins of Boxing Day, Snopes has an excellent post.
[Photo credit: (cc) Vickie Howell]