December 26th is Boxing Day. Have you ever wondered what, exactly, Boxing Day is? I mean, don’t you remember seeing it on the calendar as a kid and saying to yourself, um, why is this holiday wrapped in a shroud of secrecy? Why have I never been told about it? What is it, and why don’t I get an extra day of Christmas vacation for it? So, here we will solve this mystery of the ages. But first, a quiz. Check which one you think is the actual meaning of Boxing Day.
I believe Boxing Day is:
- The day we pack up all those ceramic rooster egg plates, Christmas sweaters with flashing lights, and Your Best Life books in their boxes and return them.
- The day England officially recognized boxing as a sport and granted it professional status, thereby raising it to the heights of worldwide wrestling. All other civilized countries followed suit.
- The day 3M invented tape strong enough to withstand a nuclear blast, which all of your relatives now use with the abandon usually only associated with New Year’s drunks and confetti on all packages they mail to you.
- The birthday of Leonardo Boxing, who created the masterpiece Mona Cheryl, later eclipsed by his more famous cousin Leonardo DaVinci’s copycat portrait of her sister, Lisa.
- The day FedEx and USPS employees traditionally schedule their chiropractic and physical therapy appointments for pulled muscles, wrenched knees, and twisted ankles from falling on ice while holding six packages and fending off two dogs.
- The day said workers also schedule their vacations and /or therapy.
- The day fast food operators collectively created biodegradable, non-polluting, or recyclable takeout containers and pledged to use them. Oh, wait. Still holding our breath for that.
OK, really. The actual reason you were never told about this wonderful holiday: No one in the United States celebrates it. And OK, now in the multicultural enlightenment of the 21at century, in order to ease our collective ethnocentric national conscience, our calendars post dates celebrated by other people, like Bastille Day and National Foot Fungus Day. But back in the day? I have no idea why we needed to know. A holdover from colonization? Because, you see, the holiday is British. As the unquestionably accurate source Wikipedia tells us:
“Boxing Day: The name derives from the Anglo-Saxon tradition of giving seasonal gifts to less wealthy people and social inferiors. Until their distribution, these gifts were stored in a “Christmas box,” which was opened on December 26, when the contents were distributed. In the United Kingdom, this was later extended to various workpeople such as labourers and servants.”
However, things change. More recently, this day sounds quite familiar to all of us.
“In Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and some states of Australia, Boxing Day is primarily known as a shopping holiday. It is a time where shops have sales, often with dramatic price decreases. For many merchants, Boxing Day has become the day of the year with the greatest revenue. In both Scotland and England, it is traditional to hold a full program of football and rugby matches on Boxing Day. It makes the day an important one in the sporting calendar.”
Hmmm . . . A celebration begun to bring good things to the downtrodden became a national obsessive consumption day. Sound vaguely familiar? So, though we may not celebrate Boxing Day, its spirit is alive and well in America. It might as well be on our calendars, too.
If you do wish to celebrate in the true spirit, bring something to someone today who has served you in some way. Your local fire department, police station, hospital staff, church staff–possibilities are everywhere. That was my plan for the day, but it appears a snow storm has thwarted those plans. Fortunately, gratitude can be shown any day. You don’t need a National Say Thank You Day to say thank you.