Expand your UK IQ: Boxing Day’s origins debated
November 19, 2008
Christmas cheer in jolly ole England doesn’t end once the gifts are unwrapped under the tree and the traditional holiday meal is served up.
The day after Christmas, known as Boxing Day, is also a time of celebration and giving in the United Kingdom and its commonwealth countries.
According to the Web site www.factmonster.com, the origins of the holiday are a mystery, but it probably dates to the Middle Ages. It is possible that the holiday started because servants were forced to labor away for their masters on Christmas but were rewarded with the following day off and gift boxes for their work.
Another theory is that the holiday started as a way to give back to the less fortunate, factmonster.com indicated. It is also known as St. Stephen’s Day.
But the origin of the name has also remained a mystery. One possible origin is that hundreds of years ago, boxes of fruit or other food were given to tradesmen and servants the day after Christmas, the site www.snopes.com indicated.
The same site points out another possibility: that the day after Christmas was a time when serfs were handed out their yearly allotment of goods to live off, since Christmas was a rare occasion when everyone on large estates would gather together.