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What the Hell is Boxing Day?

Like most Americans, visions of fighters dance in my head when you say "Boxing Day". After a little research, I discovered it's a day for much more than sporting events.

Every year as I write birthdays on my large wall calendar I learn about other country’s holidays. For example in 2011, I can see that Flag Day in Mexico was held on February 24th, Canadian Victorian Day fell on may 23rd and the Mexican celebration of the Virgin of Guadalupe falls on my birthday, December 12. I can pretty much figure out what most of these holidays are meant to commemorate but I’m totally stumped when I look at December 26th and note that it’s Boxing Day in Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

Images of folks bundling themselves up and heading to the local boxing arena fill my head. What a way to get out some holiday aggression! Did your parents really piss you off last night because they ‘just don’t understand’?

Are you stuck celebrating the holidays in an airport because the storm of the century has brought air travel to a screeching halt? Did someone forget that Tickle Me Elmo was at the tippy top of your wish list? Well then, strap on your boxing gloves and sign yourself up for a fight.

That’s not really what the day is about. Neither is it about getting rid of the boxes that clutter your house the day after Christmas nor returning unwanted gifts. It’s origins are much less commercial and much more charitable. One story states that Boxing Day originated as a day off for servants, who would return to their homes with a box their masters had given them that was filled with things for their families. Another story attributes this day to the church and alms for the poor. A box would be placed outside the church on Christmas Day and opened on the 26th.

In our time, Boxing Day is a bank holiday and is a time to spent with family and friends.

Horse racing, football, and other sports compete all across the country. It’s also a great day to fly your freak flag by taking part in silly activities for charity, like swimming the English Channel. Brrrrr!

One of the most popular sports that occur is shopping. Much like stores in the States, British shops are filled with customers returning and exchanging merchandise and hoping to score a fantastic end-of-the-year Boxing Day sales.

What’s a holiday without a bunch of food and drinks? Leftovers from Christmas Day are a popular choice to feed your guests along with baked ham, mince pies with butter brandy or a slice of Christmas cake.

This Boxing Day, I’m going to toast the charitable souls who collect for the poor as well as those holding door buster sales and participating in sporting events. I will raise my glass and proclaim it to be a Happy Boxing Day and hope no one thinks I’ve suddenly decided to jump in the ring and go a few rounds.

For more information, you may check these pages: Britishfood.about.com and Factmonster.com

written by ipdegirl

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