December 26 is a day most have come to know as Boxing Day, the day after Christmas Day when you can spend time with your family, and family of friends. Most, if not all, of us would spend Boxing Day visiting those we didn’t see on Christmas Day, while some play football and other sports, some go to the movies and others go for ice cream. Whatever it is, it usually involves the entire family and some friends and often includes lots of food, fun and laughter.
But do you really know the origins of Boxing Day? Do you know what it represents? There are a couple of ideas as to how Boxing Day started, but the exact origin is uncertain.
The first story came from what we now know as the Christmas carol “Good King Wenceslas.” According to the carol, Wenceslas was surveying his land on St. Stephen’s Day (Dec. 26) when he saw an old man gathering up food in the middle of a snowstorm. The king gathered up a surplus of his food and decided to carry it through the blizzard to deliver it to the peasant. Even when his page wanted to quit, Wenceslas encouraged him to follow in the footsteps that the man left in the snow.
The second story came from the fact that the servants who worked during Christmas would take the following day off. As they prepared to leave to visit with their families, the masters would present them with boxes of gifts, bonuses and sometimes left-over food.
In the Middle Ages, there was a European tradition of giving money and other gifts to those in need and those in service positions. It was even customary at one point to have an alms box left in places of worship in order to collect donations for the poor. In the late Roman/early Christian era, metal boxes were placed outside of churches to collect donations and special offerings in relation to the Feast of Stephen, also observed on Dec. 26.
I say this all to say, the basis or origin of Boxing Day, as aforementioned, has always been to give to those in need and to commemorate those in the service field.
In a country where the unemployment rate is 15.4% of the population, which roughly translates to a little less than the total population of St. Catherine — let’s just think about that for a moment — we need to step it up, helping out the homeless and the helpless where we can.
Let us go back to the days where we observe the true meaning and tradition of Boxing Day by presenting gifts and donations in order to aid the helpless, homeless and jobless.
How can we do that, you ask?!
Cleaning out the Closet
At the risk of sounding like a scratched record, the simplest way to observe the Boxing Day tradition is to clean and clear out your closet full of the clothes you know you have not worn in ages (the last four to six months). I’m not going to lie, and this may sound a bit narcissistic, but every now and then I may buy an outfit for a particular party. Now, I know you all do the same for parties throughout the year, right?! What do you do with those outfits once they’re worn? . . . absolutely nothing, right!? And I am talking to you too, men!
Admit it, half of your newly bought party outfits lie in a drawer somewhere, never to be worn again. How about you clear out all those old outfits, and the clothes you know you’re never going to wear again, and give it to someone in need?! It harms absolutely no one! AND . . . you’ll be making more space for the amazing outfits you’re planning to get this season, and in the future.
On your next trip to the supermarket, try to pick up a few non-perishable items to donate. Tins of food, cleaning products, toiletries, baby products, toothbrushes and toothpaste, feminine products, shampoo and/or conditioners, toys, etc. Think about the things you would need if you were in a similar situation; think about the practical things you can get that won’t cost you much but will be a great help to someone in need.
For Christmas we always tend to cook a fine feast fit for kings and queens. This year, think about putting away just one serving of your Christmas dinner for just one person in need. Each one can reach one. Bring the meal with you when you’re going to visit family or friends, and give it to the first street person you see.
Start the Tradition
If you really think about it, these are pretty simple things you can do to commemorate the real reason for the season (which is to give), to observe and start a Boxing Day tradition in your family and to help someone in need this Christmas. You don’t have to do all three things; you can choose to do only one, but whatever you do, remember you will be helping someone out this Christmas. That leaves a lasting legacy with your family, your friends and the people whom you help anonymously.
You can donate to the Salvation Army, the various churches around the city, to the different children’s homes and senior citizens’ homes, and you can also choose to give randomly to the street people you see. There are so many options for you to give, so there really is NO EXCUSE!
This season, GIVE . . . and it will come back to you, pressed down, shaken together and running over.
Have yourself a very happy Boxing Day! (: