Happy Boxing Day!

Happy Boxing Day!

American readers will be confused by those three words placed together in that sequence. Don’t be misled; Boxing Day is not a celebration of the most violent Olympic sport. To the British (and many countries formerly under British rule) Boxing Day falls on the day after Christmas, and is no more than a day for deep discounts at your favorite stores. Recently, responding to the resounding success of Cyber Monday in the U.S., British outfits have introduced a Cyber Boxing Day, which works out perfectly this year since Boxing Day happens to fall on a Monday anyway.

But the origins of Boxing Day are as a benevolent holiday, the day when a family’s or church’s Christmas box would be opened and its contents, food and gifts supposedly collected over the course of the year,  would be offered to the poor. The day is also known as St. Stephen’s Day, which receives notable mention in that smash-hit Boxing Day Carol, “Good King Wenceslas”:

Good King Wenceslas looked out
on the feast of Stephen
when the snow lay round about
deep and crisp and even.
Brightly shone the moon that night,
though the frost was cruel,
when a poor man came in sight
gathering winter fu-OO-el.

This King Wenceslas character is not British at all but in fact the patron saint of Czech statehood. His kindness renowned, and  until his assassination in 935 A.D.

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