Saturday, December 29, 2007

What is "boxing day"?

Many of you have probably noticed on a calendar that Dec. 26th is called "Boxing day" and wondered what that is--I had decided it had to do with boxing matches. In the English speaking Caribbean it is frequently called "Christmas second day" and is also a holiday and day off. But why "boxing"?

Boxing day is of English origin and was the occasion of the rich sharing with those less fortunate than they. Christmas was (and still is) a family day, but the next day the children would "box" up old toys they were tired of and give them to the poor, frequently household servants, etc. Normally, they would take them to the home and visit as well as leave the toys. Today Christmas second day is the day you have friends over, or go to visit friends and family--a day for visiting others. I don't personally know anyone who "boxes up" toys, but many West Indians do visit friends then.

It's a nice custom, and is one of the few times throughout the year that people practice hospitality here. But the Christmas holidays were one of the few days in the year that slaves didn't have to work. In the former British islands the custom is go to midnight mass, then go home or to someone else's home to party until daybreak. Christmas second day is when you recieve visitors more "formally", if you will.


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