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