Boxing Day, also known as St. Stephen’s Day, is traditionally observed on the day following Christmas (December 26) in the United Kingdom and other countries with British roots. Although its origins are unknown, one popular theory holds that it originated from the mediaeval practise of churches opening their collection boxes for the poor on this day, and thus charity is an important theme to this holiday. Learn how to incorporate this and other traditions into a traditional Boxing Day celebration.
Method 1 Being Charitable
1. Participate in church functions by volunteering. Find out if your church collects donations from the congregation and distributes them to the less fortunate on Boxing Day. Inquire if they require any assistance. If they do, you can help by donating your time.
2. Spend your time elsewhere. Embody the spirit of philanthropy by giving and locating organisations in need of volunteers for programmes on that day. Organize a food drive and collect food and/or donations. Help out at a soup kitchen. Make a blood donation. Make a difference in the lives of others.
3. Make a plan. Because charitable contributions are needed all year, use Boxing Day to plan your calendar for the coming year. Look online for upcoming events where you might be able to help. Create a budget that allows you to donate to your favourite charities on a regular basis.
4. Tip those who provide you with a service. Give a holiday bonus to your doorman, postal worker, delivery person, and anyone else who provides you with regular service if you haven’t already.
Although this used to be a strong tradition that began when house servants lived on-site with their employers, offering holiday bonuses on Boxing Day itself has waned since the modern era. Because many of the people you want to tip may be on vacation, make sure to tip them ahead of time.
5. Be a Wren if you want to be a Wren boy. Purchase a stuffed bird and a portable birdcage. Dress up in a fancy women’s outfit. Parade through town, soliciting donations from passers-by on the street, customers at pubs and restaurants, and by knocking on doors from door to door.
Originally, actual wrens were hunted down and killed for use as props, but to avoid upsetting people today, a stuffed bird is used instead.
Previously, donations were typically collected to fund a dance on the same night. Although this tradition may still exist in some areas, many collections are now donated to charities.
The carol “Good King Wenceslas” is a popular Boxing Day carol. The Irish band The Chieftains’ album “Bells of Dublin” also includes three Boxing Day carols: “The St. Stephen’s Day Murders,” “The Arrival of the Wren Boys,” and “A Wren in the Furze.”
Method 2 Playing or Watching Sports
1. Participate in the fox hunt. Despite the fact that killing foxes is now largely illegal, the fox hunt remains a popular Boxing Day tradition. Don your red jacket, mount your horse, and take part in the legal substitute of flushing out foxes with your hounds (without killing the fox) or chasing a human substitute instead.
2. Play some football. Get out of the house and burn off some of those holiday calories because football (or soccer, for you Americans) is such an important part of Boxing Day traditions and the overall culture of the countries that celebrate it. Organize a pickup game in your neighbourhood. Make a bet with your family. Set up a match with a local rival if you’re on a league team.
3. Participate in games and races. On Boxing Day, you can attend any of the many horse races, soccer matches, and cricket matches that are scheduled. Don’t worry about travelling; most teams make it a point to play another team close by so that neither the players nor their fans have to travel too far.
4. Take a swim. On Boxing Day, take part in one of the many icy swims that are being organised. Wear something ridiculously fancy, dive into the winter sea, and win a bravery medal while warming up in front of a beach bonfire with all the other daring souls. Many of these events raise funds for charitable organisations, so consider it a good deed done!
Method 3 Spending Time with Friends and Family
1. Pay a visit to family. If your extended family is too large to see on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, use Boxing Day to include them in your celebrations. Have a formal holiday feast or stick to the more laid-back spirit of Boxing Day with a simpler get-together.
Leftover Christmas turkey served as sandwiches or another full meal, or a cold ham or roast beef served as a buffet to minimise prep and cooking, are popular Boxing Day foods.
In the United Kingdom and Canada, many restaurants welcome large groups for Boxing Day carveries, or buffets serving carved roast meats.
2. Spend some time with your friends. If you’ve already checked off family from your holiday to-do list, consider making Boxing Day a day to spend with friends instead. Attend a sporting event or watch one at a nearby pub. Or simply hang out at someone’s house.
3. Maintain a relaxed tone. Put the holiday formality behind you. Organize a potluck where everyone can get rid of their leftovers. If you want to make it even less formal and more inviting, make it a pyjama party. Turn on the football marathon on TV, zone out, and enjoy yourself.
4. Go on a trip. Because sports and exercise are such an important part of Boxing Day, get the whole family involved and get some exercise. Use this extra time to go on a long hike through the woods or a walk through the streets with your family.
5. Go to a pantomime. Bring the kids to this family-friendly performance of lively theatre based on fairy tales, which is traditionally performed on Boxing Day. Sing along with the musical numbers and interact with the onstage performers.
Method 4 Shopping
1. Pursue the sales. Take advantage of the more recent trend of stores opening the day after Christmas and offering steep discounts. Visit larger chain stores and shopping malls, as smaller stores are more likely to be closed for the holiday.
Check the store’s Boxing Day hours ahead of time, as they may adhere to a Sunday schedule regardless of the day of the week, or open even earlier than usual.
Arrive early because lines may form outside stores before they open.
2. Keep Boxing Day’s origins in mind. Because charity is an important aspect of the holiday, use the discounts to shop for others who may not be able to afford even these sales. Purchase coats, blankets, and other winter clothing for the homeless, for example.
3. Make it a family outing. Keep some of the holiday spirit alive by making it a family outing. Include gift cards with your other Christmas gifts to family so they can use them the next day. Create your own tradition around the annual sales.
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