We present gifts on Boxing Day though nobody actually considers the significance of this day, its name and origin. Do not mistake Boxing Day for a competition of the games of fist fights as the name, though sounds like it, has nothing to do with it. Though the exact origin and the actual reasons of having this day are not known, it originated in England in Middle Ages (somewhere between 400-1500 AD) when merchants used to present gifts in boxes to the poor. Now, it is a public holiday which falls a day after Christmas and is celebrated in commonwealth countries such as Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Known by various names such as Goodwill Day in South Africa and St. Stephen's Day or Day of the Wren in Ireland, it is also called 'Second Christmas Day' in countries like Netherlands, Austria and Lithuania. Read through the article to know more about Boxing Day and its importance.
Boxing Day Holiday
The origin of Boxing Day is a mystery to the public. As per historians, in early periods, servants who worked on Christmas day took a day off on the next day. When they left to meet their families on this day, they were presented gifts in boxes, by the employers. Another story claims that servants visited their employers on December 26th with a box which the latter filled with gifts and food items. Thus came the name, 'Boxing day'.
Feast Of St. Stephen
Boxing Day is known by the name of 'Feast of St. Stephen' in countries like Ireland. There, in ancient days, churches kept alms boxes which were opened a day after Christmas and the contents were distributed to the poor. This led to the custom of presenting gifts in boxes to servants, tradesmen and dustmen, which is practised even today. In some places, employers give Christmas bonuses to the employees.
St. Stephens's Day And Boxing Day
It is not by accident that both Boxing Day and St. Stephen's day are celebrated on the same day. St. Stephen is a martyr and one among the seven deacons and is said to be responsible for taking care of the poor, downtrodden and elderly. It could either be in his honour that the servants, being poor, were given off or it could be that they were given leave on a day which is already a holiday and is closer to Christmas.
Boxing Day is celebrated with its entire fervour and enthusiasm even today. On this day, business organisations provide monetary help to food banks and hospitals while educational institutions help poor countries and charitable institutions.
Boxing Day is like an extension of the Christmas fervour and magnanimity. This day holds special charitable importance and spreads the essence of Christmas to the less fortunate ones.