Many, many years ago it was common practice for the servants of a master to come to work the next day with a box. The employer would put coins in the boxes for each of the employees and the boxes would be carried home at the end of the day. This is why the name “boxing day” was originally given to the day after Christmas.
In churches around England a long time ago, the church’s donation box was traditionally opened on Boxing Day and the proceeds in the box would be distributed to the poor or the less fortunate.
In other parts of the country, the servants, having to spend their holiday serving and taking care of the needs of the families they worked for, were given the next day off from their duties. They were also allowed to “box up” the remainder of the food and take it home to their families to eat during their own feast. Much like a Boxing Day test, the ability of a master or employer to be generous during this time of year is not a voluntary thing. Most are actually expected to give, if they don’t give, it’s a good guess that many will not have employees to work their businesses come the New Year.
Much like an employee bonus here in the United States, Boxing Day 2007 gives everyone an opportunity to do something different than what is done throughout the course of the year. Maybe finding and gifting something to someone who doesn’t have as much as you do will offer an opportunity for a Boxing Day 2007 celebration.
In the United Kingdom, the Boxing Day celebration mirrors the United States’ day after Thanksgiving. The retailers in the United Kingdom offer their Christmas inventories at reduced prices in an effort to eliminate excess stock. Sometimes the retailers inflate prices in order to make their “reduced” prices more attractive. Lines begin to form early, before sunrise and many people, including men, take part in the shopping event. Kept until the following year, the excess inventory is used to celebrate and decorate the following Christmas.
Similar to the United State’s celebrations, football is the main sporting activity during this time. Family gathering including extended families dominate the homes of all those who celebrate by eating food and drinking together. These football rivalries are usually the biggest of the year. Anticipated for weeks and prepared for for months, the games are treated as royal events! So, the next time someone asks you about Boxing Day, you’ll know they are referring to the day after Christmas.