Boxing Day

Here in Canada it’s Boxing Day. It has nothing to do with boxing gloves or rings but rather with an old tradition that came down to us from the U.K. and through our Commonwealth ties to that country.

On Boxing Day, you are supposed to box up the leftovers from your Christmas meal along with presents you don’t want or other items you no longer require and give them to those who are struggling. As a small child, I remember vestiges of this old tradition when my parents made sure there was a box of goodies to give away to a family we knew. Another aspect of the day was to provide time to a charity.

The charitable origins of Boxing Day now seem to be completely lost in an overload of after-Christmas sales that are akin to a shopping orgy, mostly for things many of us probably don’t need.

Too bad. A little selfless charity is a good thing, and especially in this tight economy. I won’t be spending any money today, but maybe some time.

Happy Boxing Day.

39 thoughts on “Boxing Day”

  1. So true, Lynette. All that stupid, manic shopping has come to represent Christmas in many people’s lives. I like the old-fashioned idea of what Boxing Day was about.

    1. I agree ; the whole shopping bit has become completely crazy. We don’t buy presents (except for children), so our shopping is limited to the regular (food, drinks) and I refuse to shop on Boxing Day. Ugh. I know that many businesses are reliant on it; in some cases, a good December shopping month can make or break them, but it’s more likely that these are smaller, local businesses. I always try to shop local wherever I am anyway, and no matter the time of year. Yes, the old Boxing Day tradition was so much better, and encouraged us to give rather than consume.

  2. A happy Boxing day to you as well. We didn’t exchange gifts this year, we’re getting some much-needed new furniture for our living room. No one could possibly want our cat-scratched, beaten down old set. I went to the Habitat for Humanity thrift store to check and it’s true.
    Of course, this is the season for charitable donations. People become more generous when there’s a tax deduction involved. It is a very nice tradition. If it hadn’t come over from Britain you guys would probably have started it yourselves. New Year’s day is coming, get ready to get happy.

    1. Thank you, Kenny. A year ago, we moved from one end of Penticton to the other and in the process gave away a lot of things to thrift stores or to ReStore (this is a Canadian Habitat for Humanity project; I don’t know if you have something similar in the US). Thanks for the compliment but I don’t know if we would have started it. What I do know is that I’m tired of the harping on “Boxing Day sales.” Ugh. Enough already.

      New Year’s is great. Cheers. 🙂

  3. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I actually didn’t know the meaning behind Boxing Day. Agreed, it’s a shame that it’s become lost and instead it’s associated with shopping. I’m glad I didn’t spend any money yesterday either.

    1. Hi Linda, I think lots of people might not know. I’m surprised that charities haven’t tried to capitalise on it from a marketing perspective as I understand that demand is very high this year, especially at the food banks.

  4. I knew, and like you mourn, the way Boxing Day has been appropriated and turned into rampant pre-Christmas manipulations to spend & acquire — but I had a different understanding of the original UK tradition. I’d thought it came from a time when Christmas didn’t begin until Christmas Day itself, which was entirely religious in focus. On the following day, the 26th, people opened their “boxes” — i.e. packages, i.e. gifts. Whichever version no longer matters, because the phrase has disappeared into commercialized sloganeering. I do like your emphasis, your reminder, to think of others, and be charitable rather than greedy. How different the world would be, if more of us did a little more of that!

    1. Thank you, Penny. My knowledge of Boxing Day comes from my English mother and having been partially raised in the U.K. From what I understood from her, another aspect of it was that the employees of the wealthy got Boxing Day off, along with a box of gifts (prior to WWII, my mother worked at Arundel Castle and had first-hand knowledge of the practice). In any event, the Boxing Day history seems to be tied more to giving than receiving (or spending).

      I agree that now it’s commercialized sloganeering – great term, by the way. The ads for something called “boxing week” borders on the offensive. Perhaps people should start thinking about reclaiming it from these giant commercial companies who can only see dollar signs. Agreed – a little more charity would go a long way!

      1. And thank you as well, because you’ve added more dimensions to my understanding of the origins of the phrase. It surely has multiple elements, but all of them linking it firmly to a single day, Dec 26. As for reclaiming the phrase — not a chance! We live in a world that has accepted the concept of “alternate facts.” And just today I hurled a whole vocab lecture at a TV ad urging us to rediscover travel again. (What? I’ve already rediscovered it once? Now I have to rediscover it a second time?) Sigh.

        1. Agreed. These old traditions have undergone many variations over the years and yes, there are multiple contributing elements.

          Good point about the reclamation and the so-called “alternative facts.” And “rediscover again?” I don’t even want to think about it! Ugh. I am somewhat surprised that a charity somewhere hasn’t picked up on Boxing Day, though.

    1. Thank you, Stuart. We are in a very tight economy right now as the B of C increased interest rates to stop house prices (and accommodation prices, generally) from continuing to rise. This has resulted in inflation and lot of people are struggling as a result. But with people wanting to let loose after Covid, they can’t resist spending more than they can afford which is causing huge debt loads. Apparently, we have an extremely indebted population, much more than at any other time. The economy has changed but there’s a real reluctance to accept that, and that’s partially fuelling the Boxing Day spending. Are you experiencing similar issues in U.K.?

      1. Yes, Lynette. Interest rates here have also been raised (which is useful for savers). But it’s a blunt tool for the purpose, causing other problems. The basic issue is that Capitalism is in charge of the world economies and it relies on constant growth, something that’s impossible in a finite environment like our planet, of course. I could spend pages and pages on this matter, but basically, people have been taught to buy more so they ‘support’ the economy. In the process, they destroy the world in which we live, so that those at the top of the pile can increase their share of wealth. Until we completely replace our current capitalist ideology with one that faces facts and relates to reality we’re unlikely to defeat the coming climate emergency I fear.

        1. Thanks for the explanation, Stuart. Agreed; capitalism is extremely unhealthy and so very exploitative. I am not well educated on the matter though and not sure how it could be replaced or with what kind of system. Doing so would require amazing perseverance, commitment and fidelity, not something for which our politicians (or any) are known.

          1. I wish I had a solution, Lynette. And you’re right about the requirements to make a replacement system that would work. But if we continue on our current blind path as a species we will doom ourselves to serious decline at best, extinction at worst. The planet, of course, will continue, and probably improve, regardless of our demise. Sorry for the gloom.
            Happy New Year!

          2. I sometimes think that population decline imposed by our own poor treatment of the planet wouldn’t be a bad thing. Certainly it would be a real wake-up if nature started to select for infertility or lowered fertility. The giant storm we just had last week – it covered much of North America – broke records everywhere and is of course a very serious sign of climate change. But this is ignored or downplayed. Agreed – the planet will go on, with or without us.
            Happy New Year, Stuart. Good health and a good year to you and yours.

          3. I suspect, and hope, nature will find a way to defeat our greed and rapacity, Lynette. It would be a random destruction, of course. We have the power to select a way of reducing our impact, but I fear that way will be ignored.
            Happy New Year to you and all you love.

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