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Boxing Day celebrates working people

The night before Christmas is a special time for families, especially those with youngsters. It's the cookies-and-milk night when Santa comes. Christmas Day is wonderful for little ones and it's a family time. But what about the holiday after? No...

The night before Christmas is a special time for families, especially those with youngsters. It’s the cookies-and-milk night when Santa comes. Christmas Day is wonderful for little ones and it’s a family time. But what about the holiday after? Nope, it’s not usually celebrated as a holiday, at least not in the USA. But in many parts of the world, Saturday - also known as boxing day - will be a longed-for day off for many.
Boxing day is traditionally a banking holiday for the British and a time employers recognize their employees with a “box of goods.”
British royalty would box up food from the day before and send it out to servants, along with other treats and perhaps money or other useful items.
Catholics in a number of countries celebrate Saint Stephen’s Day today, have Mass and give out food to the needy to honor its first martyred apostle. Acts 6:9 and much of the 7th chapter are said to relate Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin, after which he was stoned to death.
The religious aspect of the holiday is celebrated as the “Feast of Stephen” mentioned in the English Christmas carol, “Good King Wenceslas.” It is a public holiday in many nations that were historically Catholic, Anglican or Lutheran, including Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Slovakia and Sweden.
In Australia, Canada, New Zealand and United Kingdom, today is Boxing Day.
In the USA we can choose how to celebrate if we want: secular or non-secular. Or, we can just do nothing and go back to bed.
But, if you’re like many around here, getting to the store to shop is probably on your list of to-dos for the day. And if you want to add a wee bit of British lore to your day, maybe add just a tad of unselfish giving to your routine. Since this is a day set aside internationally for unselfish giving, maybe drop off a few cans of food at the Salvation Army or even see if you can help deliver some hot meals to shut ins. Grab Barbara McClintock’s “Adele & Simon,” or her most recent Children’s’ Book Award recipient, “Emma & Julia Love Ballet” book and read it to a shut-in or the kids in the cancer ward. What an act of kindness that would be.
Family is considered the main recipient for the day though, so perhaps doing something secretly for a loved one (who’s needing something special) would be a great give-back activity.
Charities are always seeking more money (and volunteers) so maybe a donation is in order. And as an aside, many are tax deductible as long as you have a receipt (That makes it hard to do a kind deed in secret, but you won’t know who benefits, so it is sort of a secret.).
With family, charity, food and giving central for the day, perhaps the adults could do as the Brits do: bake a huge roast, invite the family over, slice and serve dinner and some remade leftovers, help the family take down the tree and carefully box up the ornaments. That way you’ll cover both areas: feeding the hungry, serving food, being charitable and putting stuff in boxes. Hard to beat that.
In Jamestown, we cannot do what the Aussies do (since they are in the height of summer down there): They have cricket matches. Maybe a soccer match in the snow would be appropriate up here for a Saturday afternoon, or a slide down the hill out at the Bunker, or a slide or two across one of the rivers or along the shore at the reservoir. All that sounds good, but whew, I’d say let’s curl up in the couch or bed, wrap a big comforter around and maybe just eat left-overs from the fridge this afternoon, until football comes on Sunday afternoon, then it’s game time, America, and we know exactly how to celebrate that.
And besides, we celebrate Christmas into the new year. I understand Jamestownians don’t take down Christmas decorations until Mother’s Day, right? So extend that happiness and enjoy this season up to or past Sadie Hawkins Day.
If anyone has an item for this column, please send to Sharon Cox, PO Box 1559, Jamestown, ND 58402-1559.

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