Have you ever wondered where the idea of ‘Boxing Day’ originated from? I didn’t ever think about it to be honest, but that’s because I assumed I already knew. Surely, it was the day we packed away all those empty boxes from the unwrapped Christmas presents?
It doesn’t even have anything to do with ‘boxing’ away the Christmas tree, long tangled bundles of lights, and decorations that remind you of your grandparents for years to come. Even I knew this one, but in case you thought it had to do with watching sports like boxing, you’re wrong again.
The alms box
There’s a bit of dispute over where the concept of Boxing Day first originated, but both theories have something to do with goodwill.
The first theory is that the day was borne from the church’s idea of the Alms box (also known as the poor box, offertory box, or mite box), which was traditionally passed around in church to collect donations for the poor during the season of Advent. The proceedings from the box was then said to be handed out by the clergy to those in need on St. Stephen’s Day, which is celebrated on 26 December each year.
The other theory is that many centuries ago, the wealthier families would gather small gifts, money and leftover food from their Christmas feasts. These would be boxed up and handed out to their servants and employees the day after Christmas Day to show appreciation for another year of good service.
The phrase itself was first introduced in 1830s, but the origins of the tradition itself are still a topic of debate.
What we do know for sure, is that Boxing Day is intended to be a day about giving. So whether you’re handing over a little cash bonus to your deserving employees or dropping an extra coin or two into a beggar’s cap, do something nice and give to someone this Boxing Day.
And save January for packing away those Christmas decorations.