Britain, Australia, BritainNew Zealand, Canada, and other Commonwealth countries observe the day after Christmas as a secular national holiday, Boxing Day.
Here’s a brief look at what the day is all about and how people across these nations celebrate it.
What is Boxing Day?
While no one perhaps knows what has been the origin of Boxing day, it definitely has nothing to do with the sport of boxing. Perhaps the most widely held understanding of its origins comes from the tradition of wealthier members of society giving servants and tradesmen a so-called “Christmas Box” containing money and gifts on the day after Christmas. It was seen as a reward for a year’s worth of service. Others believe it comes from the post-Christmas custom of churches placing boxes outside their doors to collect money for distribution to less fortunate members of society in need of Christmas cheer. Some trace it to Britain’s proud naval tradition and the days when a sealed box of money was kept on board for lengthy voyages and then given to a priest for distribution to the poor if the voyage was successful. There are other explanations, but it’s clear the designation has nothing to do with the modern habit of using the holiday for shopping at “big box” stores selling televisions, computers and the like.
What do people do on Boxing Day?
In general, the day is utilised to relax across these countries. The day is usually marked with sporting events and homes open to friends and family, when they can drop by with the unfinished wine from last night and some turkey to accompany! Earlier, in Britain, people would go out fox hunting. However, the same has been banned in present times.
Boxing day in international cricket
In international cricket, the first so-called Boxing Day Test was played on the fourth day of the 1950 Melbourne match between Australia and England.
Since then, Test matches at Melbourne Cricket Ground starting on December 26 have been celebrated as Boxing Day Test with holiday crowds playing their own roles.
(with inputs from AP)