So, what exactly is ‘Boxing Day’? In the UK, it’s the day after Xmas day, 26th December, which also happens to be a saint’s day; in this case, some bloke called Stephen.
But where does the term originate? The answer is ‘no one really knows’. There are several theories, of course. For me, as a writer, I go first to the etymology, in this case via the Oxford English Dictionary. It cites the first use in Britain as in the 1830s, referring to the then custom of giving postmen, errand boys and some other servants a ‘Christmas box’, a term dating back to the 17th century when it meant ‘a gratuity given to those supposed to have a vague claim on the giver for services rendered’. But I also like Samuel Pepys’ suggestion, from his diary entry of 19th December 1663, that describes a custom linked to an older British tradition where wealthy families allowed servants a day off after the Xmas celebrations so they could visit their own families. Many would also provide them with a ‘Christmas box’ containing gifts, perhaps a bonus, and some leftover food.
So generous of the excessively wealthy to give a servant a whole day off in the year, eh?
The more people who share this post on social media, the more it will let those who are stuck indoors, due to Covid 19, enjoy it. And it’ll reach more people to show them our wonderful world. Maybe, between us, we’ll restore some love and respect for nature and slow down the damage to our environment. Thank you.
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