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The day after Christmas or Boxing Day is a public holiday in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and other commonwealth countries. This year the holiday falls on Sunday.

But it’s not in any way related to the nativity but more centered on the spirit of charity. It is a British tradition celebrated on Dec. 26, also referred to as Boxing Day. This holiday comes with several theories behind its origin with its name first coined in 1833.

Society Classism

Boxing day is unique in its own name as it has its roots are planted in the spirit of gift-giving but at the same time embedded in classism. In the early days, the British class system made Christmas Day quite an occasion to celebrate for the wealthy and elite. This meant lavish preparations with household servants abuzz toiling hard over dishes that typically include, geese, turkey, or some other fowl along with scrumptious side dishes.

With the conveniences we enjoy in this day and age this was an entirely different era where messenger boys delivered gifts and goods and ran errands for the rich and household servants relied on manual skills to perform tasks every day for their employers.

But on Dec. 26, this was a day given to servants and tradespeople to enjoy their time with family on paid time off. The wealthy took this opportunity to repay their unwavering loyalty and service, handing them small gift boxes filled with treats and trinkets as well as coins as means to convey their appreciation. At the same time, people in the lower classes of British society also prepared gift boxes for their friends and family.

Church And Charity

In a different light during the Victorian era (1937-1901), historians attribute Boxing Day to the small boxes placed near church doors where alms are deposited to help the poor during Advent. Members of the clergy are known to distribute donations to their impoverished parishioners on Dec. 26 since this day is dedicated to St. Stephen, the patron saint known as the first Christian martyr. He was stoned to death after Christ's crucifixion. Another St. Stephen was well-loved for his good works as he practiced his mission work in Sweden. He had a fondness for animals, especially horses.

Boxing Day in present times

In the UK, Boxing Day is a time to huddle up with family and friends to enjoy football matches, horse racing, and cricket. Fox hunts have also been part of British Boxing Day traditions back then, but since being banned in 2014, UK fox hunters still dress up in their finest hunting coats and follow artificial designated trails.

Fast forward to the present times, Boxing Day has made quite a social evolution from its charitable origins. These days, this holiday is synonymous with a mad crowd gathered in shopping malls waiting like keen-eyed hawks ready to pounce on the 70% price off Smart TVs lined up on the shelves. It has been commodified in ways that have somehow brought out some of the worse traits in people. With shops offering huge year-end sales discounts, many video footages have captured embattled shoppers violently going at it in a mad scramble to get their hands on much-coveted items without regard to injury and disgrace much likened to the frenzy of Black Friday in the United States.

In a different part of the world, Jamaica celebrates Boxing Day embracing its culture. Jamaicans party it up at the beach and attend Caribbean pantomimes that are typically performed in a Jamaican patois. Actual boxing matches are also part of the celebration.

In the US, the day after Christmas is a public holiday in some states, such as Kansas, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. In these states, government offices, educational institutions and many businesses are usually closed.

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