Boxing Day, the day after Christmas and a day to have a rest after the preparation and business of the day before and to eat cold turkey and pickles …or a day to hit the shops for the sales. In 1874 Boxing Day was officially recognized in Britain as a Bank Holiday.
As a child I remember my mother much preferring Boxing Day to the stress of Christmas Day, to which she made it clear she felt and enjoyed being a martyr…a victim to the cooking of Christmas dinner . On Boxing Day we ate cold turkey, mash potato, and pickles. My Father, who enjoyed undertaking most of the Christmas food shopping, and indeed the present buying , would buy huge jars of such traditional Christmas necessities in 1960’s and & 70’s England of red cabbage and Piccalilli , gherkins and pickled onions , all of which I was encouraged to try. I think such pickles were very much a part of life in the East End of London where he had grown up.
I , meanwhile on Boxing day, was expected to be quiet and enjoy my new toys and presents …..
An important point to remember was that the country now virtually comes to a standstill between Christmas and New Year , with many taking extended holiday, but that was not the case in the 60’s and 70’s and Boxing day was a day to rest after the effort of Christmas, before returning to work.
Of course for the upper classes and country people, the day has for many many years been associated with the Boxing Day hunt…. riders, horses and foxhounds chasing foxes. The hunt has changed in character since the introduction of the fox hunting ban , not an entirely popular law . The fox having been replaced with I believe, an imitation substitute with a similar scent. For more ordinary working class people the day has also long been associated with sporting activities, especially watching or perhaps playing Football.
Thank you to Liz Allen for sourcing the following information, an explanation of Boxing Day
The exact etymology of the term “boxing day” is unclear. There are several competing theories, none of which is definitive. The European tradition, which has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions, has been dated to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown. It is believed to be in reference to the Alms Box placed in places of worship in order to collect donations to the poor. Also, it may come from a custom in the late Roman/early Christian era, wherein metal boxes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen, which in the Western Church falls on the same day as Boxing Day.
In Britain, it was a custom for tradesmen to collect “Christmas boxes” of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year.This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys’ diary entry for 19 December 1663. This custom is linked to an older English tradition: since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts and bonuses, and sometimes leftover food.
Boxing Day. (2013, December 26). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:35, December 26, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Boxing_Day&oldid=587796941