Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Mystique of Boxing Day, Part 1




The Mystique of Boxing Day, Part 1


By Kate Hoshimiya
The Daily Magi
October 5, 2067



Boxing Day is traditionally the day following Christmas Day, when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts, known as a "Christmas box", from their bosses or employers. Today, Boxing Day is the bank holiday that generally takes place on 26 December. It is observed in the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, South Africa, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and other Commonwealth nations.


In South Africa, Boxing Day was renamed Day of Goodwill in 1994. In Ireland, Italy and Finland, the day is known as St. Stephen's Day (Irish: Lá Fhéile Stiofáin) or the Day of the Wren (Irish: Lá an Dreoilín). In many European countries, including notably Germany, Poland, the Netherlands and those in Scandinavia, 26 December is celebrated as the Second Christmas Day.


The exact etymology of the term "boxing day" is unclear. There are several competing theories, none of which is definitive. The European tradition, which has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions, has been dated to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown. It is believed to be in reference to the Alms Box placed in places of worship to collect donations to the poor. Also, it may come from a custom in the late Roman/early Christian era, wherein metal boxes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen, which in the Western Church falls on the same day as Boxing Day.


In Britain, it was a custom for tradesmen to collect "Christmas boxes" of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year. This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys' diary entry for 19 December 1663. This custom is linked to an older English tradition: since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts and bonuses, and maybe sometimes leftover food.


Boxing Day is a secular holiday that is traditionally celebrated on 26 December, the day after Christmas Day, which is also St. Stephen's Day, a religious holiday. When 26 December falls on a Sunday, Boxing Day in many Commonwealth countries and former British dominions is moved to 27 December. In the UK, Boxing Day is a bank holiday. If Boxing Day falls on a Saturday, the following Monday is given as a substitute bank holiday. On the occasion when Christmas Day is on a Saturday – with Boxing Day on the Sunday – the following Monday (27) and Tuesday (28) of December both become bank holidays.


In Scotland, Boxing Day has been specified as an additional bank holiday since 1974, by Royal Proclamation under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971.
In Ireland – when the island as a whole was part of the United Kingdom – the Bank Holidays Act 1871 established the feast day of St. Stephen as a non-movable public holiday on 26 December. Since the creation of the Republic of Ireland following partition in 1920, Northern Ireland – being part of the United Kingdom – officially reverted to use of the British name 'Boxing Day'.


In Australia, Boxing Day is a federal public holiday. In the Australian state of South Australia, 28 December is a public holiday known as Proclamation Day and Boxing Day is not normally a public holiday. The holiday for Proclamation Day is observed on the first weekday after Christmas Day or the Christmas Day holiday. Nowadays Boxing Day is popular in Australia as the first day of a Test cricket match held at the MCG. A Test match is also often held in South Africa starting on Boxing Day.
In New Zealand Boxing Day is a statutory holiday; penalty rates and lieu time are provided to employees who work on the day.


In Canada, Boxing day is a federal statutory holiday. Government offices, banks and post offices/delivery are closed. In some Canadian provinces, Boxing Day is a statutory holiday that is always celebrated on 26 December. In Canadian provinces where Boxing Day was a statutory holiday, and it falls on a Saturday or Sunday, compensation days are given in the following week.

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