Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Boxing Day (St. Stephen's)

The exact etymology of the term "boxing" is unclear. There are several competing theories, none of which is definitive. The European tradition, which has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions, has been dated to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown. It may come from a custom in the late Roman/early Christian era, wherein metal boxes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen, which in the Western Church falls on the same day as Boxing Day.

In Britain, it was a custom for tradesmen to collect "Christmas boxes" of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year. This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys' diary entry for 19 December 1663. This custom is linked to an older English tradition: Since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts and bonuses, and sometimes leftover food.
The terminology - 'Christmas Box' - is not unknown to me. I can remember elderly relatives asking what I'd got in my Christmas Box and other variations.

St. Stephen
 God enacted many miracles through St. Stephen.
St. Stephen's Day honours the first Christian martyr, stoned to death shortly after the Crucifixion. It is also called as Feast of St. Stephen.

It is a Christian saint's day celebrated on 26 December in the Western Church and 27 December in the Eastern Church.

Saint Stephen known as the Protomartyr of Christianity. He is venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Stephen means "wreath" or "crown" in Greek. He is thought to have been a deacon.

In Ireland, St. Stephens Day is the day for Hunting the Wren or Going on the Wren. Groups of young men and boys would dress in old clothes and blacken their faces. There is even a rhyme about the wren being the king of the birds:-

The wren, the wren, the King of All Birds,
On Saint Stephen's Day he was caught in the furze.
Although he is small his family is great.
Come out, good lady, and give us a treat!

God Bless