I always thought when I saw “Boxing Day” on our calendars that it was meant for returning the Christmas Gifts that didn’t fit or couldn’t be used for one reason or another. I think the reason I didn’t understand its purpose is because it is more of a European holiday than an American one. I was interested to learn its real history that goes back 800 years and I think you will be too!
In the UK, during the Middle Ages, collection boxes were kept at the churches to collect money for the poor. On December 26, the Day after Christmas, the boxes were opened to begin distribution! The Christmas Carol “Good King Wenceslas” is about this holiday.
Now what made me want to find out this history was the fact that I had heard somewhere that Boxing Day was for giving to the poor. Here is what I found particularly benevolent and good about his old custom. It traditionally became a day to give working people the day off for Christmas (people who would have to work on Christmas Day). Wouldn’t it be something if this tradition started here? What if the people who work in restaurants Christmas Day got the day off for Boxing Day to have a little Christmas themselves?
Also as I mentioned in a previous article "Holiday Purging and Charitable Giving..." St. Steven is also remembered on December 26 as the first Christian Martyr. It is traditionally a day for thinking about the poor. I think it makes sense to keep this tradition alive when our kids are going to be flooded with toys on Christmas Morning and the next day would be a good time to assess which items they’ve grown out of and take those items to a charity that accepts donations! I think this year we will use our boxing day to “box up” things we no longer need and give them to the Salvation Army.
How would you like to observe Boxing Day this year? Will you encourage your churches and community places to observe Boxing Day as well? It is such a purposeful Christmas Tradition that teaches us to think of others. We always say, “It is better to give than to receive.”