- Boxing Day but the shopping will wait
It is a public holiday in the UK, since it is the day immediately following Christmas day, and it falls on December 26th.
As you may have guessed, December 26th is a day when families get together to continue the Christmas celebrations.
Before it was very typical to go out on the street to enjoy the various entertainment activities offered such as pantomimes, plays, variety shows, exhibitions and sporting events such as football.
In recent times, Boxing Day has become synonymous with many sports: horse racing is a particularly popular event across the country.
Boxing Day is also a time during which Brits show their eccentricity by participating in all kinds of activities, even the craziest and silliest.
These include some extravagant traditions such as swimming in the English Channel, in that time as cold as freezing, and other insanities such as fun themed races and races, but also numerous charitable events.
Here is how it works: if Boxing Day falls on a Saturday, the following Monday is a holiday, while if Christmas Day is a Saturday, it will be a holiday on Monday and the following Tuesday.
This year we had the first case and, in normal times, all schools and many other businesses and organizations would remain closed during this period but, because of Covid-19, most were closed for the whole week between Christmas and New Year anyway and all activities above were obviously cancelled so we stayed home and ate a lot (as usual!).
Despite being a time of closures for offices, schools and organizations though, in normal times, Boxing Day is when shops remain open and it is the biggest day of the year for sales as it marks the beginning of the Winter sales period, but not this year, as you may have already guessed since shops and shopping centres were closed as well.
It is when people go exchange the gifts they received and they didn’t like or when they go exchange them for better sizes or go get what they wanted but could not buy at full price.
But again, not this year.
For that we will need to wait a bit longer.
In the meantime, Brexit has started and so have the first vaccinations against the Covid-19 and we’ll see how both these two important things will go.
In old times, Boxing Day was the day when business owners gave their employees some kind of gift or extra pay check but, in modern times, this happens around this time of the year and when the gift is delivered is no longer important, in fact employees usually receive it before Christmas and Boxing Day.
The United Kingdom and Ireland are not the only countries that celebrate Boxing Day, in fact it is a holiday that is now also celebrated by the countries that have had historical and lasting relationships with them.
The main examples are Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, but also Hong Kong and other Commonwealth countries.
Before the name Boxing Day began to be used, the holiday was known as St. Stephen's Day (as we call it in Italy for instance).
Traditionally the history of Boxing Day dates back to the Victorian era, when churches opened boxes, hence the name Boxing, in which the worshippers would put their donations.
The money raised was then distributed to the poorest citizens.
Only a few churches today continue to follow this tradition and open their donation boxes on Boxing Day, others open them year-round or right before Christmas to organize Christmas lunches to poor families and homeless people.
Even large sailing ships are said to have had a sealed chest of ‘donations’ on them with money inside to attract good luck.
If the trip was successful, the box was delivered to a priest who would open it on Christmas day to give its contents to the poor the following day.