Some information about Boxing Day

In Europe there has been a long history of giving money and other gifts during the Christmas time to those in need and in “service” positions. This dates back as far as the Middle Ages. Some believe that the term “Boxing Day” refers to the “Alms Box”, often placed in buildings of worship and used to collect donations for the poor. In the Roman and early Christian period came the Feast of Saint Stephen, which falls on the same day each year as Boxing Day. Saint Stephen is first mentioned in biblical scriptures as one of the seven deacons appointed by the Apostles who distributed food and charitable aid to the poor. According to some historieans, this could be the connection to the specific date and the term “Boxing Day”.

The first documented evidence of a formal “day off” on Boxing Day comes from letters written in 1663. These letters refer to a tradition in Britian where trades people were given “Christmas boxes” of presents or money on the first weekday following Christmas. This was done as a way to give them a bonus or a "thank you" for their hard work all year. Since the servants normally would have to serve the needs of their master on Christmas Day, many of the them were given the next day off so that they could visit their respective families. As they left the estates they would be given boxes filled with gifts from the their master to take with them, which often contained leftover food for the families they planned to spend the day with.