Boxing Day

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Boxing Day on 26 December is the day following Christmas Day, and is a secular holiday in many countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Northern Ireland and some other Commonwealth countries.

St. Stephen's Day, or the Feast of St. Stephen, is a religious holiday commemorating St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr. It is celebrated on 26 December in the Western Church and 27 December in the Eastern Church. It is an official public holiday in Austria, Balearic Islands, Catalonia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Sweden, Finland,Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Poland, where some celebrate it as Second Christmas Day.

Many Eastern Orthodox churches adhere to the Julian calendar and mark St. Stephen's Day on 27 December according to that calendar, which places it on 9 January of the Gregorian calendar.

Today, Boxing Day is better known as a bank or public holiday that occurs on December 26, or the first or second weekday after Christmas Day, depending on national or regional laws. It is observed in Great Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and some other Commonwealth nations.

In the United States, where the day is simply known as "the day after Christmas", business owners give gifts to people who make deliveries.

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[edit] Origins

The exact etymology of Boxing Day is unclear. There are several competing theories, none of which is definitive. The tradition has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions. The European tradition has been dated to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown and there are some claims that it goes back to the late Roman/early Christian era; metal boxes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen.

In the United Kingdom, 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 custom is linked to an older English tradition: wealthy landowners allowed their servants were allowed to take the 26th off to visit their families. The employers gave each servant a box containing gifts and bonuses, and sometimes leftover food.

[edit] Christmas Day now

In many Western countries, Boxing Day has become synonymous with consumption, where many line up at department stores in search of bargains at "Boxing Day sales". Many products are bought for their reduced price rather than for real need.

There is an opportunity for us to rediscover the traditional roots of Boxing Day and give a gift to someone who may need it. Using up leftovers from the Christmas Day dinner is also a good practice.

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