Boxing Day – And It’s Origins Do Not Lie In Sport!
By Robbie Mackay
The 26th of December -“Boxing Day” was the day we always went to my Auntie Margaret and Uncle Alex, enjoying what was in practice an extension of Christmas Day. More food and drink, music, dancing and catching up with the family and friends we didn’t speak to on “the big day”.
I always wondered where the name came from and to be honest I thought it was something to do with the sport of Boxing and other sports which have become a big part of “Boxing day” in recent times. As a child I rolled with the idea of it surely being the day we should pack away the empty boxes from unwrapped Christmas presents! It certainly doesn’t have anything to do with ‘boxing’ away the Christmas tree – but even I worked that out as I grew older!
There are several ideas and theories as to where the concept of Boxing Day first originated and thankfully both theories have something to do with goodwill.
The first theory is that the day originated from the church’s idea of the Alms box (also known as the poor box, offertory box, or mite box), which was traditionally passed around in church to collect donations for the poor during the season of Advent. The proceedings from the box was then said to be handed out to those in need on St. Stephen’s Day, which is celebrated on the 26th of December each year.
The other theory is that many centuries ago – wealthy families would gather small gifts, money and leftover food from their Christmas feasts. These would be boxed up and handed out to their servants and employees the day after Christmas Day to show appreciation for another year of good service.The phrase itself was first introduced in 1830s, but the origins of the tradition itself are still a topic of debate.
More recently some traditions have arisen such as the Boxing Day dip, when hardy swimmers (often in fancy dress) brave icy waters of to raise money for charity. What we know for sure, is that Boxing Day is intended to be a day about giving! It’s also the day when retailers traditionally begin their “Boxing Day Sales” – but that’s another topic altogether!