- December 26 -

Boxing Day

Boxing Day is traditionally the day following Christmas Day, when servants and tradespeople would receive gifts from their superiors or employers. Today, Boxing Day is better known as a bank or public holiday that occurs on 26 December, or the first or second weekday after Christmas Day, depending...

Boxing Day

Boxing Day is traditionally the day following Christmas Day, when servants and tradespeople would receive gifts from their superiors or employers. Today, Boxing Day is better known as a bank or public holiday that occurs on 26 December, or the first or second weekday after Christmas Day, depending on national or regional laws. It is observed in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and some other Commonwealth nations.
In South Africa, Boxing Day was renamed Day of Goodwill in 1994. In Ireland it is recognized as St. Stephen's Day (Irish: Lá Fhéile Stiofáin) or the Day of the Wren (Irish: Lá an Dreoilín). In the Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, Austria, Germany, Scandinavia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and Catalonia, 26 December is celebrated as the Second Christmas Day.
In Canada, Boxing Day takes place on 26 December and is a federal public holiday. In Ontario, Boxing Day is a statutory holiday where all full-time workers receive time off with pay.

Etymology

The exact etymology of the term 'boxing' is unclear. There are several competing theories, none of which is definitive.The European tradition, which has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions, has been dated to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown. It may come from a custom in the late Roman/early Christian era, wherein metal boxes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen, which in the Western Church falls on the same day as Boxing Day.
In the UK, it was a custom for tradesmen to collect 'Christmas boxes' of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year. This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys' diary entry for 19 December 1663. This custom is linked to an older English tradition: Since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts and bonuses, and sometimes leftover food.
Source:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxing_Day

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