Why do we call it Boxing Day?

Dec 26, 2019 by

by Margaret Ashworth, The Conservative Woman:

LIKE most traditions, the origin of Boxing Day is unclear. The prevalent theory is that the day after Christmas used to be when tradesmen and servants received a ‘Christmas box’ or gratuity for services rendered during the year. In earlier times servants would have the day after Christmas off to visit family, and were sometimes given a box containing gifts and leftover food to take home.

Another suggestion is that the tradition stems from the Roman era when money paid by spectators at athletic games was collected in boxes. Amongst the ruins of Pompeii, boxes made out of earthenware with slits in the top full of coins have been found. Later the Romans brought the idea of collecting boxes to Britain, and monks and clergy soon used similar boxes to collect money for the poor at Christmas. On the day after Christmas, the priests opened the boxes and distributed the contents to the poor of the village. Thus, according to the theory, this day came to be called Boxing Day.

December 26 is also the feast day of St Stephen, the first Christian martyr. He was probably a Jew who spoke Greek and he lived in Jerusalem. He converted to Christianity and was ordained a deacon, then attempted to spread the word among the Jewish community. In about AD 36 he was summoned to appear before the Sanhedrin, the supreme rabbinical court, charged with ‘speaking against this place and the law.’ In his defence he made a long speech attacking Jews and accusing them of killing Jesus.

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