Saturday, December 26, 2009

‘twas the day after Christmas

What are you up to on Boxing Day?

I can’t help but wonder how many of you are passing the day today in the same way that am; nursing a hangover of yesterday’s excess of extended family or food or alcohol or, as in my case, all of the above.

Boxing Day in New Zealand is a public holiday so excepting those poor souls in the business of retail, the rest of us get to lay about and try to shelter from the heat. We can eat leftovers all day and maybe venture out late afternoon for a walk or a dip in the ocean.

Does everyone even call today Boxing Day? I understand it’s called that because historically in England today was the day the ‘poor boxes’ were opened and the proceeds distributed to the needy, but, as per my usual disclaimer, I could of course have this wrong.

Anyway my point is that I reckon that Boxing Day is the poor cousin of Christmas Day. It’s the recovery day. It’s sad really; it’s the plain younger sister; it’s the day that’s doomed forever to be the day after the day before.

Today I’ve decided that this must change.

I for one am standing up and declaring my newly recognised regard for Boxing Day. It’s a day that doesn’t expect too much from us; it costs nothing to celebrate; there’s no fuss, no god bothering; no stupid hats; no over-rich food; no decorating requirements and it has way better movies on TV than Christmas Day does. Boxing Day is absolutely everything I want in a holiday and I regret taking it for granted in past years. Who’s with me?

Boxing Day

Enjoy your Boxing Day everyone, relax and catch your breath after the madness that is Christmas. 

I’m off now to take the dog for a walk at the beach; I may even have a swim.


  1. I grew up in Canada so Boxing Day was Eaton's and Hudson Bay's big sale day. Interestingly tomorrow I will be attempting to find a box. The Engineer got carried away and all the boxes associated with Christmas got burned (19 degrees F here). So I need to find a box to mail a package to San Francisco for my sister-in-law's New Year's Eve birthday.

  2. Boxing Day is a major shoppping event in Alberta, (mostly so that retailers can clear out their merchandise and take inventory). I'm working tomorrow, 11-7. I'm glad that I can wear jeans & sneakers!
    Hope you had a great Christmas Lou!

  3. Boxing Day seems to be one of those ‘Britain and the Commonwealth’ things: it’s apparently not a holiday in the US, though Wikipedia assures me that the term is sometimes used there.

    The origin comes from the practice of giving a present or bonus to domestic staff, or, if in business, to apprentices, going back to the 16th century. It evidently became extended to tradesmen later, as I remember one Boxing Day as a child answering the door to the rubbish collector, who bade me a happy Christmas. Rather puzzled, I returned the greeting, and he went off back down the path, seemingly disappointed. My father was much amused when I returned to the kitchen and described the puzzling event: he explained that what the man meant was ‘Happy Christmas and give me some money’.

    The practice seems to have died out now, probably because of increased affluence, and the fact that rubbish collectors would rather finish their round and get home as quickly as possible, rather than get a paltry few quid from irritated residents who see no reason to give them money on top of what they already pay them in wages.

  4. P.S. From the OED (under ‘Christmas Box’):

    1. A box, usually of earthenware, in which contributions of money were collected at Christmas, by apprentices, etc.; the box being broken when full, and the contents shared.
    2. […]
    3. A present or gratuity given at Christmas: in Great Britain, usually confined to gratuities given to those who are supposed to have a vague claim upon the donor for services rendered to him as one of the general public by whom they are employed and paid, or as a customer of their legal employer; the undefined theory being that as they have done their offices for this person, for which he has not directly paid them, some direct acknowledgement is becoming at Christmas.
    Thus, these gratuities are asked from householders by letter-carriers, policemen, lamp-lighters, scavengers, butchers’ and bakers’ boys, tradesmen’s carmen etc., and from tradesmen by the servants of households that deal with them, etc. They are thus practically identical with the Christmas-box collected by apprentices from their masters’ customers in sense 1, exc. that the name is now given to the individual donation; and hence, vulgarly and in dialect use it is often equivalent to ‘Christmas present.’

    Right. I don’t want you asking this question again.

  5. Happy Boxing Day, although I nearly fell off my chair when you talked about the heat and a dip in the ocean!
    It's c-cold here! =)

  6. Happy Boxing Day, Lou - a day late. I've been making rather merry, as old Bob Cratchit might say.

    In our house here in the US, we use the term "boxing day" rather loosely but with great reverence to identify whatever post-Christmas day we get our "chosen" family (and not our biological family) together to celebrate, decompress, laugh like idiots, and just basically have a great time.

    We employ a tradition that goes by many names, including "the Yankee Swap," in which attendees re-wrap and bring the most awful gifts they have received in the previous year and we go round the room selecting from among these gifts - with those picking later in the game having the ability to "steal" previously opened gifts from others.

    It's great fun and makes for one of the brightest and most enjoyable days of the holidays season.

  7. Yay, Boxing Day..we have an open house party all day and evening. Everyone welcome. Food, food and more food only topped by the amount of alcohol that is imbibed.
    I should feel far worse than I do this morning and have had trifle for breakfast and I am eating tasty riblets for lunch. My BB has gone to the cabin where he will stay until New Years Eve day. Then he will come home and we will celebrate with more food and champagne.
    I love life.

  8. Happy Christmas Lou. It's St. Stephen's Day in Ireland (particularly significant for us ex-altar boys). The shops opened on this day in Ireland for the first time ever - a mark of the economic depression. Kind of sad, really.

  9. Good luck finding a box on Boxing Day froggy.

    Kate I hope you survive your mad Boxing Day sale - sneakers are appropriate as I bet you'll be run off your feet.

    Thanks for the info Simon; you're very thorough!

    It's weird to think about eh Bob? It blows me away that you guys are practically buried in snow over there.

    Thanks Greg, I certainly did plus I've been swimming again today, so refreshing.

    DuPree I love the sound of that Yankee Swap - I might get my group of things to try that next year. We'll call it kiwi swap maybe?

    Lol Lori, I will happily eat pavlova for breakfast if there's any left in the fridge. It's half the fun of Christmas.

    I didn't know that Vole which is weird seeing as mum and dad are Irish - how sad that it'll now be just another shopping day like it is in the rest of the world. Crass commercialism wins out yet again.

  10. As a Canadian living in England it's nice to have an extra holiday at Christmas time and we even had Monday off as Boxing Day fell on a Saturday this year. I don't hit the shops at all because it is manic. My mother in law had a lovely buffet for the family and I actually got drunker that day than on Christmas. It took me two days to fully recover!

    Hope you and yours have a great New Year's... xo

  11. Sounds like a great day jo. It's the same here - when a statutory holiday falls on a Saturday (boxing day this year plus the day after new years day) we get the Monday off work instead. It's a fantastic plan.

  12. Happy Holidays, Lou! Well, I'd no idea what Boxing Day was...although it's on my calendar. I'd thought it had something to do with the *sport of boxing*....duh.

    It sounds like a fabulous holiday...and kudos to you for acknowledging its true value!

    Now, go enjoy that SWIM!

  13. Thanks Kathryn - I've been swimming every day which is not something I do every summer but have been loving it. We're shaping up to have a beautiful warm summer here.


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