Did you know that the day after Christmas is actually a holiday in many countries?
It’s called Boxing Day!
While not a religious holiday, historically it’s a day to remember servants, employees, and those less fortunate. Gifts were collected and given to the needy and those in positions of service. The exact origins are unclear, but European traditions have been dated back to the Middle Ages.
There are a few theories on why the day is termed “boxing day.” One is that those less fortunate would receive gifts known as “Christmas boxes” as a way to show appreciation and blessing for their service year round. Another theory is that servants, who served their wealthy employers on Christmas Day, were given the day after Christmas off to spend time with their families. Employers would give their servants a box full of goodies, gifts, and even leftover food to take home with them to their families.
In many countries, including Australia, Canada, and the UK, Boxing Day is actually a federal holiday. So, instead of families being off for Christmas and rushing back the next day to work, they have at least two days off to celebrate the joy and meaning of the season.
So, if you find yourself with some time over the next few days and are still in the Christmas spirit, here are some ways you can extend the holiday cheer to those around you.
Boxing Day Traditions You Can Start
1. Box up your Christmas leftovers and bring to families less fortunate than your own.
2. After new Christmas toys have been organized and put away, go through your children’s stash with your kids and let them pick some toys to donate to others.
3. Ask your local church if they know of any families who have had a rough Christmas season. If they don’t want to be known for privacy reasons, ask your pastor if there are any needs that you can meet this week for someone in their congregation. As a family, try to meet that need.
4. Spend time in prayer with your own family for those around you who are less fortunate than your own.
5. Write thank you notes, and have your children color or draw on them as well, for people who have served your family throughout the year. Whether it’s paid service or those who have simply made a huge difference in your life, express your gratitude.
6. Bake cookies or treats for those who are still working during this season like your local fireman, police, or ambulance drivers.
7. Serve at a local food kitchen or homeless shelter together as a family.
8. Invite an individual or family into your home who may not have had the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in a large way. Use it as an opportunity to give hospitality and love.
9. Brainstorm and plan how your family might serve others in your sphere of influence and community in the upcoming year. Sort of like a New Year’s Resolution, but for others not yourself.
Hopefully you’ve learned something new today. I never knew Boxing Day existed until I lived in England, and now I’m a big fan! As the holiday season draws to a close, this is a great opportunity for us to think outward and onward. A time to think about how we can show appreciation and love for those who are busy serving others all year round.
Happy New Year!