Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Boxing Day

When I was little, I had one of those never-spoken-about images that on Boxing Day groups of men would get together and box. I never saw anyone actually doing this, but that feeling has stayed with me in a strange way. Boxing Day. I mentioned this to Big Friendly this morning and he did a quick google and gave me the lowdown. The landed gentry, after giving and receiving gifts from their own class on Christmas day, would put in boxes their gifts to the poor on the day after Christmas. And so Boxing Day gets its name.

We used to celebrate Boxing Day with my father and grandfather by having an ‘at home’ party and playing Klabberjas. Much drinking and swearing and accusing of cheating later, the champ would be declared and we would stumble around the garden.

This year my last grandparent died and with my gran’s death, a few traditions that will never be repeated but in our memories.

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3 Comments

  1. Tante B

    Yes – I shared that confusion until dear old Google came into my life. Klabberjas – brings back memories -your grandfather played it well.

  2. Tante B

    ps I couln’t fathom out why we, in SA, were celebrating the Chinese Boxer Rebellion – No one I asked knew either. Ignorance is bliss.

  3. The Saint

    Thanks to Wikipedia

    Origins
    Boxing Day is a traditional celebration dating back to the Middle Ages, of which the primary practice is the giving of gifts to employees, the poor, or to people in a lower social class. The name has numerous folk etymologies[3]; the Oxford English Dictionary attributes it to the Christmas box; the verb box meaning: “To give a Christmas-box (colloq.); hence the term boxing-day.” Outside the Commonwealth, the holiday is sometimes called “St. Stephen’s Day”.

    Folk etymologies
    The more common stories include:

    It was the day when people would give a present or Christmas box to those who had worked for them throughout the year.
    In feudal times, Christmas was a reason for a gathering of extended families. All the serfs would gather their families in the manor of their lord, which made it easier for the lord of the estate to hand out annual stipends to the serfs. On 26 December, after all the Christmas parties, the lord of the estate would give practical goods such as cloth, grains, and tools to the serfs who lived on his land. Each family would receive a box full of such goods, hence “Boxing Day.” According to this tradition, the lord of the manor did not volunteer, but was obliged to supply these gifts.
    In England many years ago, it was common practice for the servants to carry boxes to their employers when they arrived for their day’s work on the day after Christmas. Their employers would then put coins in the boxes as special end-of-year gifts. This can be compared with the modern day concept of Christmas bonuses. The servants carried boxes for the coins, hence the name Boxing Day.
    In churches, it was traditional to open the church’s donation box on Christmas Day, and the money in the donation box was to be distributed to the poorer or lower class citizens on the next day. In this case, the “box” in “Boxing Day” comes from that lockbox in which the donations were left.
    Boxing Day was the day when the wren, the king of birds,[4] was captured and put in a box and introduced to each household in the village when he would be asked for a successful year and a good harvest. See Frazer’s Golden Bough.
    Evidence can also be found in Wassail songs such as:
    Where are you going ? said Milder to Malder,
    Oh where are you going ? said Fessel to Foe,
    I’m going to hunt the cutty wren said Milder to Malder,
    I’m going to hunt the cutty wren said John the Rednose.
    And what will you do wi’ it ? said Milder to Malder,
    And what will you do wi’ it ? said Fessel to Foe,
    I’ll put it in a box said Milder to Malder,
    I’ll put it in a box said John the Rednose.
    Because the staff had to work on such an important day as Christmas by serving the master of the house and his family, they were given the following day off. As servants were kept away from their own families to work on a traditional religious holiday and were not able to celebrate Christmas Dinner, the customary benefit was to “box” up the leftover food from Christmas Day and send it away with the servants and their families.

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