Happy Boxing Day!
Never heard of it, you say? The origins of the holiday and its name are a vague, but several websites I looked at indicate that it began in England sometime in the Middle Ages. In the countries (most of which are or were part of the UK) where it’s celebrated, it’s a “bank holiday” – a day when banks, government offices and the postal service are closed.
Some historians believe the holiday developed because servants were required to work on Christmas Day, but given the following day off and presented with gifts [boxes]. Others think it started because the alms boxes in churches were opened and the contents distributed to the poor. Regardless of how the day started, over the years it has developed into a time of charity, a time when service and tradespeople are typically given tips and bonuses for their work during the past year. It has been expanded to include giving to non-profit and needy organizations.
When I decided to blog about Boxing Day I recalled an episode of the TV show M*A*S*H during which the 4077 gives medical treatment to a British regiment who talk about the tradition of enlisted personnel and officers trading places on Boxing Day. I did quite a bit of research but found only two references to this custom. The first was in a blog by a man who tells a story about his son’s army regiment participating in the tradition, and the other is an episode of The Nanny during which Mr. Sheffield refers to the custom and suggests that he and Niles switch roles.
The lack of evidence makes me wonder just how “traditional” this tradition is. What do you know about Boxing Day? Do you have traditions of your own?