Boxing Day is a holiday celebrated in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. It falls on December 26th, which is also St. Stephen’s Day.
St. Stephen was a little known saint who achieved eternal fame by being the first Christian to be martyred for his faith, and he met his death by stoning.
Boxing Day is so called because on this day it was the customary for tradesmen to collect their Christmas boxes or gifts in return for good service throughout the year. Also, it included giving money and other gifts to charitable institutions, and the needy.
The holiday may date from as early as the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is not known. It may have begun with the Lords and Ladies of England, who gave Christmas boxes/gifts to their servants on December 26, or maybe by priests, who opened the church’s alms (charity boxes), and distributed the contents to the poor and needy.
In some nations, this day has become part of the celebrations, of being with family. A day to visit other relations, and to have a rest from the day before, to play fun games. Some families, buy a new game each year, but still bring out the old favourites. For some it is good to have the 2 days off in a row, as on one of the days you can visit with your parents, and the other day your inlaws.
St Stephen is the patron saint of horses, so Boxing Day became associated with horse-racing and hunting. Other sports are also held on this day like football and rugby.
Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day is the Christmas season for many in the nations that celebrate Christmas on the 25th and include Boxing Day events in their social and cultural calendars.
However, in some nations – especially here in North America – it has become a day of worship. People line up the night before (Christmas Day eve) and spend all night in line waiting for the doors of the “church” to open. This is real dedication to their beliefs because in some areas it can be a really cold night often below freezing, windy with blowing snow. It is often not a pleasant wait but the lines are long and many come to worship with friends and so the fellowship is often great and the long over-night hours pass quickly. Many “visions” are seen of the tremendous blessings that their god will bestow upon them in the early morning hours as the church building opens and they, as dedicated worshippers, can finally enter the sanctuary.
When the doors of the “church” do open in the morning there is often a mad rush to get into the building. Behavior is often regretfully non-Christian and unloving as they fight for the best location and the best position. They, of course, as good worshippers, have their wallets open and ready to make sizable offerings to their god. They are seldom disappointed as they usually get what they have come for and leave feeling satisfied and happy. Contentment and even total satisfaction are the immediate results of this worship experience although often these initial feelings fade fast and so they have to return often to make another offering – often with diminishing returns.
Meanwhile, across the city in many of the other churches the lights are out and the people are absent. In fact, it is not just on Decmeber 26th that this is true. Even on the 24th (Christmas Eve) and the 25th (Christmas Day) the lights in these other churches remain off and their followers are at home enjoying this special time of the year and a few days off of work and away from the daily routine. And, don’t tell anyone, but some are resting up so that they can manage the all night, all day celebrations being held at the other ‘churches’ on their special day as they worship the gods of mammon and consumerism. Afterall, their “God” offers them everything that is good and promises to meet all their needs and prosper them – blessing them with everything… so really the two worship ideologies are really not that different and unity is a good thing as unity “demands further blessings” from God.
Ah! We live in such a wonderfully spiritual society and culture and I simply love this time of year as it is so worshipful and spiritual.