Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day - Clenched Fist or Helping Hand or Greedy Fingers

When I was growing up without television, the radio was the essential connection to the world beyond my street. We listened to news, mystery shows, Hockey Night in Canada and Friday Night Fights. Naturally when hearing the term Boxing Day, we thought of fist fighting. That too was a mystery but no one questioned it. Then as time went on we were supplied the explanation that Boxing Day was the day one through out all the empty Christmas gift boxes. That too satisfied us. How was I to know that Boxing Day had a more altruistic purpose?

England under Queen Victoria in the middle of the nineteenth century was the birthplace of this December 26th exceptional holiday so named as boxes were filled with gifts and money for servants and trades people. None other than Charles Dickens wrote that originally Boxing Day was the first weekday after Christmas Day and was observed as a holiday “on which postmen, errand boys, and servants of various kinds received a Christmas box of contributions from those whom they serve.” Also, poor people carried empty boxes from door to door, and the boxes were soon filled with food, Christmas sweets, and money. Parents gave their children small gifts such as, oranges, handkerchiefs, and socks. People also placed old clothing that they didn't need anymore in boxes, and they were given to those in need. In some cultures the 26th is also St. Stephen’s Day in honour of the first Christian martyr.

Today in Canada as well as other Commonwealth nations the day is a statutory holiday and is always celebrated on Dec. 26, with the closure of Banks, schools and government offices. Stores and Malls are open for bargain Boxing Day sales and gift exchanges. It can be madness as people clamour for ‘stuff.’ You almost need a Survival Guide. Commercial outlets expand their sales with a Boxing Week. Here is a list of companies offering Boxing Day Sales with 50-70% off right now, and a gazillion retail outlet opportunities here. And of course many people now can do online Boxing Day shopping. Take Future Shop for an example.

Thankfully some organizations do follow the original Boxing Day tradition and give to the Food Bank or gifts to needy families or otherwise underprivileged people.

So you don’t miss it – here are future Boxing Day Dates
2009: Sat, Dec 26, 2009
2010: Sun, Dec 26, 2010
2011: Mon, Dec 26, 2011
2012: Wed, Dec 26, 2012
2013: Thurs, Dec 26, 2013 Good Heavens I will be 71 years old then.

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