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Origin Of Holidays

The History of Boxing Day

The day after Christmas, the Feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, is better known as Boxing Day. The term may come from the opening of church poor boxes that day; maybe from the earthenware boxes with which boy apprentices collected money at the doors of their masters' clients. Boxing Day, celebrated on December 26 in England, Wales, parts of Canada, and in some other countries of the Commonwealth of Nations, has nothing to do with the boxes from the Christmas packages.

Traditionally, on that day the gentry would give presents, generally of money, to servants, tradespeople, and others of humble life. These presents came to be known as Christmas boxes. Boxing Day is a legal bank holiday in Canada and England.

The holiday may date from the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown. It may have begun with the lords and ladies of England, who presented Christmas gifts in boxes to their servants on December 26. Or it may have begun with priests, who opened the church's alms boxes on the day after Christmas and distributed the contents to the poor. Or even in England in the middle of the nineteenth century under Queen Victoria.

Supposedly poor people carried empty boxes from door to door, and the boxes were soon filled with food, Christmas sweets, and money. Parents gave their children small gifts such as, oranges, handkerchiefs, and socks. People also placed old clothing that they didn't need anymore in boxes, and they were given to those in need.