Happy Feast of Saint Stephen’s Day!
And Happy Boxing Day! Growing up in Canada, I always wondered what Boxing Day really meant. Being on the 26th of December, it seemed associated with Christmas somehow. It was another day off for many. When I was younger, it was just a play day holiday the day after Christmas. More playing with new toys we got for Christmas. When I grew older, it was the crazy day many people went out to the stores to get what they hadn’t got but wanted, or just to take advantage of the first day of after Christmas sales. Some people tried to take back unwanted gifts, but those lines were long if returns were allowed yet at all.
Yes, why was that day after Christmas called ‘Boxing Day’? Nobody seemed to know for sure, at least in North Western Canada. Boxing up Christmas decorations was one theory I was told many times over. Throwing away boxes from Christmas was another common answer.
I was reading up on Boxing Day History today and found other theories about the reason for the British naming of that day. In days gone by, church charity boxes were opened up on ‘Saint Stephen’s Day’, or the ‘Feast of Saint Stephen’ day, and coins and sometimes other gifts were distributed to the poor. Stephen had been specially ordained to administer to the poor and widows, and thus it all relates. Another tidbit I found was that since servants were required to work on Christmas Day, they were allowed to go home to their families the next day, December 26th, and were given a boxed gift from their employer. Sometimes they also might be given boxed up leftovers of food from the feasting to be shared with their families. Later on, gifts and tips could be given to anyone in service industries on that day. Well, after all these years of wondering somewhere in the back of my mind, Boxing Day makes a little more sense to me now.
And as to Saint Stephen, he has been a patron saint of numerous concerns, such as horses and headache sufferers. My love for horses and my experience with migraines made me take particular note on those points. After my reading, or gentle research today, I will never wonder about the Feast of Stephen again, and: “Good King Wenceslaus looked out on the feast of Stephen…”