Boxing Day, also known as The Feast of Saint Stephen, is celebrated on December 26th. Boxing Day is celebrated in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. There are many theories as to how, when and why Boxing Day originated. Most think Boxing Day began in the middle of the 19th century, in England, under the rule of Queen Victoria. It was a day for those of lower classes to receive gifts from the upper class.
Another theory is that centuries ago merchants gave gifts food, clothes, fruit or money to servants and trades people. These gifts were a sign of appreciation, much like a "Christmas Bonus" is today. These gifts were given in boxes, and it is believe that is where the term "Boxing Day" came from. A different idea is that the alms boxes placed in Churches throughout the Christmas season were opened by the clergy on the 26th of December. These donations were then distributed to the poor.
To keep this tradition alive many families still partake in this kindness by offering gifts to those who provide services during the year, such as milkmen, paperboys, letter carriers, etc... Many people, businesses and organizations donate their time, as well as material objects to help charities or individuals. The whole idea behind Boxing Day was to help the less fortunate and be charitable in a time of giving and sharing. Today, many communities, especially in the United Kingdom, participate in the Boxing Day Run.
The Boxing Day Run is a simple and fun way of giving to those less fortunate than you. In Haslemere England, for example, there are three 3½ mile races every Boxing Day: the men's run, the women's run, and the Drinking Boxing day Run. The Drinking Run offers racers a pint of Winter Ale at the 2-mile mark. All proceeds from this run are donated to the Holycross hospital.
The Saltwood Boxing Day Run was started by locals as a way to help ease the pain of a hangover the day after Christmas. In 1975, they began with 15 runners. In 2003, 671 people ran for fun and charity.
Many schools also organize Boxing Day runs. These events are fun for the whole family as there are runs of various lengths and difficulties. Often food and beverages are sold as well, such as tea and mince meat pies. There are "medals" for all the participants and it is generally a festive atmosphere. The Boxing Day traditions are upheld and families are eager to participate in something fun. The fact that the proceeds go to the school (in this case) is a bonus.
At a time where most people are running to the store to buy discounted Christmas items, it is important to also remember those who cannot afford such luxuries. Boxing Day runs are a great way to remember the true meaning of this season.
Although some people will celebrate boxing day with a nice leisurely run, others will spend boxing day like they did with Christmas Day, that means watching the television and eating more and more turkey. Others may spend Boxing Day with their families and relatives. But a Boxing Day run is definitely the best way to start to trim that stomach; especially if you have eaten more then you should during the Christmas holidays.