By Diane Forrest,
Today is Boxing Day, a holiday that is celebrated in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and some other Commonwealth nations. In Ireland, it is recognized as St. Stephen's Day or the Day of the Wren. Growing up I always thought that Boxing Day was the day to box up all your decorations from Christmas to put them away for the next year. But actually it’s a really nice holiday.
Boxing Day is a bank holiday that was started in 1871 by the Bank Holidays Act. It allows for the banks to be closed the day after Christmas, and employees given the day off with pay. If this day falls on a weekend, then the next business day is taken. It also coincides with the Feasts of Stephens, a religious holiday celebrating the first Christian martyr. No one is quite sure how Boxing Day got its name. Some believe it was named that because the churches would place metal boxes outside the church to accept donations for St. Stephen's celebrations. Others say it was a custom for in exchange for ensuring that wealthy landowners' Christmases ran smoothly; their servants were allowed to take the 26th off to visit their families. The employers gave each servant a box containing gifts and bonuses (and sometimes leftover food).
Today, in addition to having the day off, there are huge shopping sales to pick up some good buys. While we don't observe Boxing Day in America, we still have the opportunity to attend great after Christmas sales, and it is also a great time to make charitable donations. Not only will you feel great when you donate, but you will also be able to claim it as a tax deduction for the tax season. Or if you aren't able to shop or donate, at least you can box up your decorations and store them for the next year. Happy Boxing Day