The week following Christmas is arguably the best time of the year to get your hands on a lot of things that are well below their market value. Boxing Day, which always falls onDecember 26, is observed as an official public holiday in the UK and many European countries, as well as countries in the British Commonwealth such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, among others. America has decided that, much like the metric system and extra U’s in certain words, it will not embrace this particular tradition…
Americans have held fast to their Thanksgiving and Black Friday traditions, the latter signifies the Christmas shopping season and it is after that you start seeing the obvious transition into the Christmas spirit. When Boxing Day falls on a weekend, countries that observe it designate the subsequent Monday as a holiday.
Where did Boxing Day come from?
Origin stories of the holiday are mixed: Some say the name comes from the British aristocracy’s habit of presenting their servants with gifts on the day after Christmas, once their own celebration was over and lowly employees could finally get some time off. Another popular suggestion is that it arose from the tradition of making charitable donations during the Christmas season, wherein people would give boxes of food and other supplies to the less fortunate and churches would set out donation boxes to collect for the poor. Yet another theory posits it is in reference to the Alms box which the church used to collect special donations tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen.
St. Stephen’s Day, synonymous with Boxing Day as they both fall on December 26th, is a saint’s day commemorating the first Christian martyr. Saint Stephen was a deacon at the Church of Jerusalem who was stoned to death after enraging a Jewish audience before the rabbinic court.
Most of the European countries extend the religious fervor and festivities well into the 26th and even consider it a second Christmas Day.
Despite having British origins Boxing Day has been taken on regional transformations as it has developed over the centuries. Boxing Day has become a day of sports, as Vice explains:
“Of the 92 fully professional teams in England’s Football League, there are 46 live matches. Even in the Conference, England’s fifth and sixth tiers, where many teams are semi-pro, every club is at it. In the Southern Hemisphere, things are just as festive and equally sporty. The Melbourne Cricket Ground, the fabled, 160-year-old temple to cricket, is full: Australia is taking on India in the annual Boxing Day Test. Similar matches, in addition to an uncountable number of other sporting events, are taking place in New Zealand and South Africa.”
In the U.S. and the U.K.
Many in the UK show up to their favourite sports matches as players are stretched thin with the large and extended amount of games that are scheduled in such a short time. The Australian National Cricket Team hosts a Boxing Day match against its fiercest rivals and entertains thousands at the impressive Melbourne Cricket Ground. New Zealand and South Africa are hotbeds for Horse Racing and money is won and lost as many bet on their
However, one common denominator is that many countries have taken a holiday that’s said to have its roots in charitable giving and transformed it into a massive event that indulges in consumerism and commercial excess.
This is the integration and the coalescence of culture and markets in the West.
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