Today is Boxing Day. The day is a holiday celebrated on the day following Christmas Day in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth nations.
In Ghana, Churches are expected to hold picnics and fun games; families and friends will not be left out of these celebrations. Beaches across the country are expected to be filled to capacity.
Boxing Day occurs on 26th December, although the attached bank holiday or public holiday may take place either on that day or a day later in some countries.
The day is also known as the St. Stephen’s Day and is a public national holiday.
The main essence of the day is to share one’s fortunes with other needy people in the neighbourhood.
The name is derived from the fact that the day after Christmas the boxes in the house of the Christians are filled with gifts and articles that they have in excess and given to the poor and the needy. Many would think that the Boxing Day means a day for the sport of Boxing.
It also does not denote getting rid of the boxes that one keeps in their home. It is actually the giving of gifts or articles to the people who need them.
The origin of Boxing Day remains a mystery to the public.
As per historians, in early periods, servants who worked on Christmas day took a day off on the next day. When they left to meet their families on this day, they were presented gifts in boxes, by the employers.
Another story claims that servants visited their employers on December 26 with a box which the latter filled with gifts and food items.
Thus came the name, ‘Boxing day’. Although there is general agreement that the holiday is British in origin and involves giving gifts to the less fortunate there can never be absolute proof or evidence for the origin of the day.
Some of the following are the widely believed causes or origin of the day: Centuries before this day, the ordinary merchants and trades people would give presents to their servants wrapped up in boxes as a token of gratitude for their service.
This was usually done on the day after Christmas.
Christmas was a day of the gathering of the family members and celebrations.
In the olden days when there were large manors and extended families Christmas was the time to share presents during the family gathering.
The presents were given out by the Head of the family based upon how the people were related and their involvement in the family.
The day after Christmas was when the servants and the people working for the manor would get their bonuses or stipends for the upcoming year.
These gifts and presents were usually wrapped up in boxes and given out.
There was a time when the apprentices and the servants would carry boxes to their master’s home on Christmas day in hope of getting extra amount of money or rewards for the work that they had done for that year.
This theory also has another viewpoint to it as when the earthen boxes with gifts are laid out for the servants by their masters, and the servants break them in order to get their presents.
Saint Stephen was a martyr in the religion of Christianity.
He was killed for his belief and his preaching about the Son of God, Jesus. His death was by stoning from a mob.
The Boxing Day is also to commemorate his sacrifice for the cause of Christianity.
Thus the day after Christmas is celebrated as the Boxing Day and to give the needy and poor gifts and materials in the true essence of Christmas which is all about sharing and caring.
Today’s Boxing Day festivities have very little to do with charity.
Instead, they revolve around picnicking, eating, drinking, football (soccer), other games and visits from friends, a far cry from the original essence of the day.