Oh, England. You and your zany traditions.
Welcome to Boxing Day, the day that, for all intents and purposes, I originally believed was the day people beat the crap out of one another. Seriously. Ask any American and the first thing that comes to their head is somebody getting whacked with a 2×4. (Granted, I am from the south of the US so if you are up north maybe it would be different.)
Alas, dear readers, I found out awhile back that Boxing Day holds an esteemed title as one of the few Bank Holidays that has a name, and that name was originally tied to two things: servitude or charity. Boxing Day, version one, was the day after Christmas where servants were given gifts and time off for a job well done. Boxing Day, version two, was the day after Christmas where you either boxed up things for the needy (since you got new clothes/toys) or gave a bit of charity at the church box.
Boxing Day current tradition is waking up early for sales, going into town (provided you can find transportation or just accept the buses start running after 9AM), and playing “Guess which store is actually open” and otherwise fleeing your family. I’m told that in larger cities like London Boxing Day is similar to American Black Friday. This means that tomorrow I’ll be checking the BBC to see who was trampled/mugged/maced or otherwise humiliated over something that was marked 75% off.
The things we do for material goods.
Boxing Day is apparently celebrated in England and the Commonwealth (which means Canada is involved). There is also rogue Ireland, who do not celebrate Boxing Day but instead St. Stephens Day, which may or may not fall on the same day as Boxing Day. Ireland is a bit funny as some parts are United Kingdom but they are still Ireland as a whole so piss off. (There are similar holidays like St. Stephen’s Day that Scotland celebrates because it’s Scotland and not England. Wales doesn’t count as far as I’m aware.)
So what does an American think of Boxing Day? I like it because it means we get two days off for Christmas instead of one. Then again, I like the fact that we get holidays. Real ones. Not that lousy two-week period which also counts as sick leave in most cases. I’m also not living in a big city, so the madness of post-holiday shopping is left to movies and news reports.
But I still see, no matter how many times it is mentioned, people beating each other up every time I see or hear the words. Why my mind won’t shift to another image will remain a mystery to me. Or I just accept it and introduce a new tradition to England. That, of every 26th of December, carrying around large chunks of wood and whacking people with them. We could trace it to some long forgotten pagan tradition. I can completely justify this.
Or maybe, just maybe, I should stop while I’m ahead.