Happy St Stephen’s Day or Boxing Day

“Good King Wenceslas 10a” by engraving by Brothers Dalziel – http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/good_king_wenceslas.htm. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

For those of us in Commonwealth countries, today is Boxing Day but for many other countries this day have other names like St Stephen’s Day is the feast day for Saint Stephen the first Christian martyr.

The feast day is mentioned in the traditional Christmas carol “Good King Wenceslas”, when the good king braved the harsh winter to donate to peasants on the feast day.

Boxing Day, as it came to be known arrived much later in the British Empire, it’s thought to be a day when servants and tradespeople received ‘Christmas Boxes’ from their employers and could celebrate with their own families after having waited and worked for their bosses on Christmas Day.

Whichever you call it, I hope you’re enjoying it. Whether it’s with family, at church, working or out shopping (as I imagine a great number of people are)

 

Origins of Boxing Day

Boxing Day, (the day after Christmas) hasn’t always been a day of shopping bargains and madness but had it’s origins in a far different tradition. It was traditionally the day that tradespeople and servants would receive a ‘Christmas Box’ of gifts from their employers. Having served their employers and their family on Christmas Day the servants had the following day off to spend time with their own families.  They would sometimes be sent off with a box of leftover food and gifts to share with their family.  The holiday is observed in Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and most Commonwealth countries.  The day is also observed as the religious feast day of Saint Stephen in many countries.

The origins of the day are unclear but thought to originate with Alms Boxes collecting money for the poor in places of worship during the Middle Ages. Possibly these collections were connected to the Feast of Saint Stephen.
In modern times, where it is a statutory Holiday the day became an added day off to spend with family and friends and in even more recent times it’s a shopping day for merchants to sell-off all the merchandise they didn’t sell before Christmas.

Whichever way you choose to celebrate the day…I hope you enjoy your Boxing Day or St Stephen’s Day