Categories: History

What is Boxing Day Anyway?

In 2017, Buckrail had thousands of visitors from the United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.  All of them were interested in learning more about our happenings in Jackson. Today is Boxing Day or St. Stephens Day. It’s a public holiday in these countries.  So, it’s a big day for these people.

Boxing Day is hard to understand. Here are some details on the origin:

  • It was started in the United Kingdom about 800 years ago, during the Middle Ages. It was the day when the alms box, collection boxes for the poor often kept in churches, were traditionally opened so that the contents could be distributed to poor people. Some churches still open these boxes on Boxing Day.
  • It was also traditional that servants got this day off to celebrate Christmas with their families. Before World War II, it was common for working people (such as butchers and milkmen) to travel around to their delivery places and collect their Christmas box or tip.
  • The 26th December is also St. Stephen’s Day. Just to confuse things, there are two St. Stephens in history. The first St. Stephen is believed to have been a very early follower of Jesus and he is said to have been the first Christian Martyr (a person who dies for their religious beliefs). The Bible says that Stephen was stoned to death by some others (who didn’t believe in Jesus).
  • The second St. Stephen was a Missionary, in Sweden, in the 800s. He loved all animals but particularly horses (perhaps why there is traditionally horse racing on Boxing Day). He was also a martyr and was killed by pagans in Sweden. In Germany there was a tradition that horses would be ridden around the inside of the church during the St. Stephen’s Day service.
  • These days Boxing Day is a big shopping day. It’s also a huge day for Football matches (soccer games).
  • More Information on Boxing Day:

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