Why is it called Boxing Day, and what are we supposed to box?

By GREGORY KATZ | The Associated Press

LONDON — In Britain and some other countries of the former empire, the day after Christmas is a secular national holiday known as Boxing Day. Here’s a brief look at some theories about how the holiday got its name and how people celebrate it:

NO NEED FOR BOXING GLOVES

While no one seems to know for sure how it came to be called Boxing Day, it definitely has nothing to do with the sport of boxing, or with boxes left over from Christmas gifts.

Perhaps the most widely held understanding of its origins comes from the tradition of wealthier members of society giving servants and tradesmen a so-called “Christmas Box” containing money and gifts on the day after Christmas. It was seen as a reward for a year’s worth of service.

Others believe it comes from the post-Christmas custom of churches placing boxes outside their doors to collect money for distribution to less fortunate members of society. Some trace it to Britain’s proud naval tradition and the days when a sealed box of money was kept on board for lengthy voyages and then given to a priest for distribution to the poor if the voyage was successful.

SHARING THE WEALTH, AROUND THE COMMONWEALTH

No one knows for sure when Boxing Day started, but some believe it was centuries ago, when servants would be given Dec. 26 off as a day of rest after feverish preparations for their masters’ Christmas celebrations. The tradition gained popularity during the Victorian era. The British Empire may now be a thing of the past, but Boxing Day is celebrated in some other parts of the Commonwealth, including Canada, Australia and Kenya.

SO IF THEY’RE NOT BOXING, WHAT DO PEOPLE ACTUALLY DO ON BOXING DAY?

Boxing Day has evolved into a day of relaxation and indulgence and shopping. …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World

Teen charged with killing girlfriend’s parents, who had denounced him as ‘monster’

By Justin Jouvenal, (c) 2017, The Washington Post

Buckley Kuhn-Fricker was so disturbed by what she discovered about her teenage daughter’s boyfriend that she spent a tumultuous week pushing for a breakup. By Thursday, she texted a friend saying the “outspoken Neo Nazi” was out of their lives.

Just hours later, Kuhn-Fricker, 43, and her husband, Scott, 48, were slain in their Virginia home, allegedly by that 17-year-old boyfriend. The killings happened around 5 a.m. Friday, while the couple’s children and other relatives were in the house, having gathered to celebrate the Christmas holiday.

The teen, who shot himself and is in critical condition at a hospital, was charged with two counts of murder Saturday after police spent Friday investigating at the large family home in Reston, just outside Washington, D.C.

The Washington Post generally does not name juveniles charged with crimes unless they are charged as adults. The family of the teen, who is from Lorton, declined to comment.

Fairfax County police would not offer a motive for the double slaying, but family members and friends tied it directly to the couple’s struggle to keep hate out of their home, as one friend put it. They agreed to talk about the efforts because they said it was important to expose what happened.

Friends and family said Kuhn-Fricker, who owned an elder-care business, was passionate about civil rights and social justice, so she put her foot down after discovering alarming tweets and other messages on her 16-year-old daughter’s phone. She believed the messages were from the boyfriend.

On the night of Sunday, Dec. 17, Kuhn-Fricker alerted the principal of the Fairfax County private school that her daughter and the boyfriend attend. She included numerous images from the Twitter account, retweets praising Hitler, supporting Nazi book burnings, calling for “white revolution,” making derogatory comments about Jews …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World

Christmas snow in Portland, blizzard in Northeast, bitter cold in Midwest

CHICAGO (AP) — The good news for many in the Northeast and Midwest was that it has been a white Christmas. The bad news was that a blizzard swept into parts of New England and bitter cold enveloped much of the Midwest.

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Map: Airport delays in major U.S. cities

Even the usually rainy Pacific Northwest got snow. The National Weather Service says it’s only the sixth time since 1884 that downtown Portland had measurable snow on Dec. 25.

A blizzard warning was issued Monday for portions of Maine and New Hampshire, with forecasters saying snow of up to 10 inches and wind gusts up to 50 mph could make travel “dangerous to impossible.”

States from Montana and the Dakotas to Wisconsin expected wind chill temperatures in places at 40 below zero, the National Weather Service said. The upper half of Iowa and northern Illinois also braced for subzero temperatures.

Minnesota was experiencing its most frigid Christmas Day since 1996, with wind chills as cold as 35 degrees below zero, KSTP-TV reported. The National Weather Service warned that those whose skin was exposed in such conditions could get frostbite in as little as 15 minutes.

Snow amounts in the Midwest were not large for this time of year. A storm system that swept from Nebraska through Iowa dropped around 2 inches of snow on Chicago, the weather service said.

That was just enough to provide a picturesque backdrop for those gathering for Christmas dinners in the Chicago area. But it wasn’t enough to cause havoc either on roadway or airport runaways.

Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport was reporting just six cancelations and average delays of only 15 minutes around noon Monday. There were no cancellations at the city’s other major airport, Midway, and delays were less than 15 minutes …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World

A hotel punished guests for bad reviews with a $350 charge. It’s now being sued by the state.

By Avi Selk | Washington Post

It was one of the peculiar features of the Abbey Inn: A couple might spend a holiday there in a romantic suite surrounded by southern Indiana woods — and never meet another soul.

No other guests, sometimes. No full-time staff. Often no clerk. “Your stay is private,” read the now-defunct hotel website in the spring of 2016. “You may not see another person.”

The place looked pretty to Katrina Arthur. From the outside, the Abbey seemed to fit its name, a little forest sanctuary, painted white like a church. So she and her husband booked a weekend getaway in March last year. Then they found out what lay beyond the surface.

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A deception lawsuit submitted earlier this month by the state of Indiana against the hotel’s owner claims that Arthur never got to see a thick policy document that listed certain other peculiarities about the Abbey.

“We hope you enjoy your stay with us,” read a page buried deeper on the website, beyond the pretty pictures of flowers and white walls. “However, occasionally things do go wrong.”

The power breakers sometimes tripped at night, for example, and no staff members were there to restore the power until morning. There were no phones in the suites.

There sometimes were swarms of lady bugs, and flying roaches liked to gather around the hot tubs. “Please remember you are coming to the woods!” read the page that Arthur said she never saw.

And it offered an unusual warning, which is now the basis of the state’s lawsuit: Guests had best be careful what they said about the hotel’s problems. Because the Abbey Inn had ways to punish …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World

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