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Boxing Day

Only a few countries celebrate Boxing Day, which takes place on 26th December. It started in the UK about 800 years ago in the middle Ages. On this day, Alms boxes were opened and the money distributed to the poor of the community. Some churches still have Alms boxes and still uphold the tradition of opening them on Boxing Day.

It is thought to have been the Romans who first introduced this type of collecting box to the UK. They, in fact, did not distribute the contents to the needy, but used it to gamble on the games they played during their winter celebrations.

In Holland some of the collection boxes were made out of a rough pottery called ‘earthenware’ and were shaped like pigs. This may well be where we get the term ‘piggy bank’ from The Carol, Good King Wenceslas, is set on Boxing Day, or ‘The Feast of Stephen’ and is about a King in the Middle Ages who brings food to a poor family.

It was also traditional that servants got the day off to celebrate Christmas with their families on Boxing Day. Before the Second World War, it was common for milkmen, dustmen, and paperboys etc. to travel their round collecting Christmas tips. This tradition seems to have died out and people offer any Christmas boxes prior to Christmas itself.

Boxing Day has now become another public holiday in Commonwealth Countries such as the UK,  Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It is also the traditional day that Pantomimes started to play. There are also often sports played on Boxing Day in the UK, especially horse racing and football matches!