why is it called boxing day in australia
In Britain and other countries like Australia and Canada, 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:
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. 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. Other 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 in need of Christmas cheer. 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. There are other explanations, but it's clear the designation has nothing to do with the modern habit of using the holiday for shopping at big box stores selling televisions, computers and the like.
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 the day after Christmas off as a day of rest after feverish preparations for their masters' celebrations. Others trace it back even earlier, to the Roman practice of collecting money in boxes в they say Roman invaders brought this practice to Britain, where it was taken up by the clergy to collect money in boxes for the disadvantaged. The tradition gained popularity during the Victorian era and has flourished to this day. The British Empire may now be a thing of the past, but Boxing Day is still 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 в and shopping. It is filled with sporting events (including a marathon soccer schedule tailor-made for TV viewing from a comfortable couch) and it is often a day when people open their homes to family and friends who drop by for turkey, ham, and perhaps half-consumed bottles of wine left over from Christmas dinner.
In Britain it used to be a day for fox hunting in the frost-tinged countryside, but that practice has been mostly banned for more than a decade now. In its place, Boxing Day Sales have flourished, with many Britons lifted from their post-Christmas torpor by the lure of low prices in department stores. December 26 is not only a day for Santa Claus to catch his breath but a public holiday known as Boxing Day in the United Kingdom and other British Commonwealth countries such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand. In spite of its peculiar name, Boxing Day has nothing to do with fisticuffs, the trashing of empty boxes left over from Christmas or the return of unwanted presents to department stores. The term is of British origin, and the Oxford English Dictionary traces its earliest print attribution to 1833, four years before Charles Dickens referred to it in БThe Pickwick Papers. Б The exact roots of the holiday name are unknown, but there are two leading theories, both of which are connected to charity traditionally distributed to lower classes on the day after Christmas.
One idea is that December 26 was the day centuries ago when lords of the manor and aristocrats typically distributed БChristmas boxesБ often filled with small gifts, money and leftovers from Christmas dinner to their household servants and employees, who were required to work on December 25, in recognition of good service throughout the year. These boxes were, in essence, holiday bonuses. Another popular theory is that the Boxing Day moniker arose from the alms boxes that were placed in churches during the Advent season for the collection of monetary donations from parishioners. Clergy members distributed the contents of the boxes to the poor on December 26, which is also the feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr and a figure known for acts of charity. (Ireland celebrates December 26 as St. StephenБs Day. ) Although the practice of almsgiving on December 26 has faded with charity now being given in the weeks leading up to Christmas, the Boxing Day name has endured. These days, December 26 is a popular holiday in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries for watching sports such as soccer and cricket, shopping and visiting friends.
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