The Day After Christmas

Hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful Christmas Day! Today is another public holiday here in the UK and is known as Boxing Day. Why Boxing Day you may ask. Well, as with many things, there are several interpretations, the most popular being as follows.

While Boxing Day is officially a public holiday, for many it has morphed into a working day as people take to the shops once again to hit the sales *yikes*.  The origin of Boxing Day goes way back. Some think it is tied to the Feast of St. Stephen which falls on the same day. In the Middle Ages, collection boxes were located in places of worship to encourage donations for the poor. On the day after Christmas, the boxes were emptied and their contents distributed to the needy.

In December 1663, Samuel Pepys wrote about the day in a diary entry and related the custom of giving tradesmen/women a Christmas box on the first weekday after Christmas. This box usually contained money and was a thank you for their service throughout the year. I can actually remember my parents and grandparents giving money to refuse collectors, milkmen, the bread delivery man, etc., and I think this custom may still continue today.

Downton Abbey fans might be interested to know that there was an old English tradition which took place on Boxing Day amongst wealthy families and their servants. Since the servants always had to wait on the family on Christmas Day, they couldn’t celebrate with their own loved ones. On the following day, they were allowed to visit their families and would receive a box from their employers to take home. The box usually contained leftover food which they could share with their families.

There is also a tradition called Wren Day which takes place on 26 December. According to folklore, the wren betrayed St Stephen by flapping its wings over his hiding place, thus leading his pursuers straight to him. Thus, it was considered to bring bad luck. The killing of wrens was against the law, except on Boxing Day, when the Wren Boys killed and paraded a dead wren through the town. They went from house to house demanding money, and if a person refused to pay, the boys threatened to bury the wren in their garden. This was thought to bring exceptionally bad luck. The tradition remains to this day in places, but only in symbolic form.

Boxing Day is also a big sporting day with football matches, horse racing and fox hunting (thankfully, the killing of foxes during the hunt has been banned here now).

Woody in his Guide Dog harness

Woody in his Guide Dog harness

For my final post of 2014, I thought you might like to see a photo of our gorgeous Woody. You may remember we looked after Woody several times last year. Well, our clever boy is now a fully-fledged working guide dog! Woody is such a special boy and we have fab memories of his time with us. Appparently, he is doing a stellar job for his new owner. We are so proud of our beautiful lad.

Happy New Year everyone. I hope 2015 brings everything your heart desires.

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6 responses to “The Day After Christmas

  1. Fascinating post. I never knew that about the wrens! And me being a bird woman. And a big well done to Woody. What a wonderful end to the year. 🙂

  2. Yes, seeing Woody in his Christmas finery is a great way to end the year. I love the intelligence in his very expressive eyes. I’ve read stories with Boxing Day in them so sort of knew what the day was all about. Here’s we sort of collapse the day after. Or at least I do.

  3. Woody is precious. Sweet! Thanks for sharing the old traditions. I give a tip to the mailman and the paperboy at Christmas. My granddad was a mailman and he got lots of goodies from his customers

  4. Valerie J. Patterson

    I had no idea what Boxing Day was. I really thought it was a celebration of the sport of boxing. Glad I am wrong. The examples you gave [outside of the wren thing] are pretty good examples of generosity to those that needed it. Happy New Year to you and yours, Tricia! Loved the photo of Woody, too! 😛

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