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viernes, diciembre 26

Why do we celebrate Boxing Day?

(An article written by Lucy Kinder at Daily Telegraph on 27th December 2013)

Boxing Day is an institution in the British calendar but there is no common consensus as to how it got its name.

According to some it can be traced back to the Victorian era when churches often displayed a box into which their parishioners put donations.

However according to historian Dr Neil Armstong, the naming of Boxing Day dates back to the 17th century.

This was the day, he says, when apprentices would have a box for their employers to tip them with a coin, or two.

Dr Armstrong from Teesside University says that while the boxes may have disappeared, the custom of tipping has remained.


He added: "Tipping within the world of business is still a culture we associate with Boxing Day and the festive period."

In the Victorian age the custom evolved and on Boxing Day most tradespeople who supplied middle class houses would give their clients a gift to ensure their custom. There were concerns, says Dr Armstrong that this was a form of bribery.

This custom declined in the 20th century as fewer people had relationships with their local businesses and shops following the rise of supermarkets and shopping centres.

It may not be the reason why Boxing Day got its name but, says Dr Armstrong, charitable giving was closely associated with Boxing Day in the Victorian era.

"In the mid 19th century there began to be indiscriminate charitable giving. There were some concerns that this would often be begging, and children were usually sent out to do this job."
Nevertheless the mentality of generous charitable giving has continued to be associated with the festive period up to the present day.

Boxing Day continued, however, to be a normal working day until 1871 when it was finally classed as a bank holiday.

According to Dr Armstrong shopkeepers made up a large part of the campaigners who were pushing for it to be designated as a holiday.

He said "They would often be working until very late on Christmas Eve so they wanted a break on Boxing Day."

With Boxing Day now an official holiday, it became known as a day of leisure. Organised sporting events such as football matches became popular- a tradition which has carried on until today.
Families would leave the house for day trips and other family-orientated recreational activities. Museums began to open on Boxing Day in the late 19th century.

In the last 20 years the most common leisure pursuit associated with Boxing Day is shopping.
However in Ireland, where St Stephens Day is celebrated, many shops remained closed throughout the day.

Boxing Day is observed only in is observed in the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and some other Commonwealth nations.

In America December 26 is known as the Day after Christmas Day, and is observed as a holiday in only a few states.

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