Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Boxing Day

Today is Boxing Day.

Not . . .

. . . but . . .

Some trivia:

Boxing Day is celebrated on December 26, the day after Christmas.
It is celebrated in Great Britain and in most areas settled by the English (the U.S. is the major exception), including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Kenya, South Africa, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and other Commonwealth nations, as well as Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden.
There are different theories as to how the day came to be called Boxing Day:
·       One theory is that it dates from medieval days when wealthy people gave their servants and workers the day after Christmas Day off, so that they could spend that day with their families.  The workers were often given boxes containing bonuses, gifts and leftover food.  This in turn originated the concept of the “Christmas box”,
·       An alternative theory is that the day after Christmas was the day that the alms boxes at churches were opened, having received collections for the Christmas poor.
The U.S. states that celebrate Boxing Day as a public holiday include Texas, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky and Kansas.
The US celebrates National Candy Cane Day on December 26 each year. 
The candy cane was originally straight and all white, invented by French priests in the early 1400s. The cane shape came about, so legend has it, when in 1670 a choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral in Germany bent straight sugar sticks into canes to represent a shepherd's staff, and gave them to children at church services. Another theory is that, as people decorated their Yule trees with food, the bent candy cane was invented so as to be able to hang them off the branches.   as a functional solution. Candy with red stripes first appeared in the early 1900s. Postcards before 1900s show only white coloured candy canes.
In 1994 South Africa renamed Boxing Day to the Day of Goodwill in order to sever ties with South Africa's colonial past. Boxing Day was considered a British holiday.
Boxing Day is a public holiday in Australia, except in South Australia which instead observes a public holiday known as Proclamation Day on the first weekday after Christmas Day.
December 26 is also St Stephen’s Day, when the snow lays round about, deep and crisp and even.  That also ties in with the alms box being opened on that day.
Stephen (c. AD 5 - c. AD 34) traditionally venerated as the first martyr of Christianity.  A deacon in the early church at Jerusalem, he aroused the hostility of members of various synagogues by his teachings. Accused of blasphemy, at his trial he made a long speech denouncing the Jewish authorities who were sitting in judgment on him and was then stoned to death.
On Boxing Day in 2004 an earthquake under the Indian Ocean generated a series of tsunamis that killed over 300,000 people.

In Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Canada, Boxing Day is the heaviest shopping day of the year, much like Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, in the United States.  Boxing Day sales are common.
In Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, Test cricket matches are played on Boxing Day.
The start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race is on Boxing Day.
Boxing Day is one of the main days in the hunting calendar for hunts in the UK and US, with most hunts (both mounted foxhound or harrier packs and foot packs of beagles or bassets) holding meets, often in town or village centres
The Irish used to celebrate December 26 by killing wrens.  Celtic myth held that the robin represented the new year and that it killed the wren, representing the outgoing year. Today the tradition consists of "hunting" a fake wren and putting it on top of a decorated pole. Then the crowds of mummers, or strawboys/wrenboys, celebrate the wren (also pronounced wran) by dressing up in masks, straw suits, and colourful motley clothing. They form music bands and parade through towns and villages.

Wrenboys in Dingle, Ireland
In past times and into the 20th century, an actual bird was hunted by wrenboys on St. Stephen's Day. The captured wren was tied to the wrenboy leader's staff or a net would be put on a pitchfork. It would be sometimes kept alive, as the popular mummers' parade song states, "A penny or tuppence would do it no harm". The song, of which there are many variations, asked for donations from the townspeople.
In England the practice of hunting wrens was also once a popular activity on Boxing Day. It was considered unlucky to kill wrens on any other day.

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