What is Boxing Day and why is it called that?
One of my most ‘fun things to do’ is researching different traditions and looking for interesting websites.
I was mulling over the words ‘Boxing Day’ and wondering where exactly it originated. This is what I found:
“Christmas boxes were originally literally earthenware boxes. In mediaeval England, these boxes were used by the poor (servants, apprentices etc.) to save money throughout the year. At Christmas, the boxes were broken open and the savings shared to fund Christmas festivities. This meaning of Christmas box dates back to at least the early 17th century. The boxes were known in France as tirelire and are referred to in Randle Cotgrave’s A Dictionarie of the French and English tongues, 1611: Tirelire, a Christmas box; a box having a cleft on the lid, or in the side, for money to enter it; used in France by begging Fryers, and here by Butlers, and Prentices, etc.
In a similar tradition, which is almost as old as the above and which is the one that has stayed with us until the present day, Christmas boxes were gifts, usually money, given to tradespeople or others who have rendered some service throughout the year but who aren’t normally paid directly by the donor – for example, office cleaners, milkmen etc, and since they did not work on Christmas Day would receive them on ‘Boxing Day’
Also, the feast of St Stephen (day after Christmas) aka Boxing Day was traditionally when the alms box at every English church was opened and the contents distributed to the poor.
And this also explains the tradition of calling a christmas present a ‘christmas box’ whether its in a box or not.”
So there you have it. I do wonder if the tradition of alms boxes still exists? I do like the idea of a festivities box though, where we could save all our pound coins perhaps and then at the end of the year; indulge in a treat, like a spa/massage or coach-tour somewhere special.
What do you think? Should we have our own special ‘Christmas Box’. or should it be reserved for the alms boxes and as a thank you to the service men & women in our lives?