Australia won the litter and decided to be the first to beat the Boxing Day Test in the MCG

What do you know about Boxing Day aside from the fact that it’s a holiday and a good time to get a bargain?

Have you ever wondered where the name came from or what the day has meant over the centuries?

As it turns out, the exact roots are unknown, however, there are some theories that date back to the Middle Ages

It has its origins in the UK and one theory has it that it was originally a day to compensate servants

“In the Middle Ages and early modern times, all servants had to work on Christmas Day,” explains Carole Cusack, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Sydney

“Their bondage meant putting the needs of the people they worked for first”

“This is your first idea, that it is some kind of gift in the sense of spending free time with families,” says Professor Cusack

References to the origin of the name “boxes” can be found in the Oxford English Dictionary, which referred to a day “on which postmen, messenger boys and servants of various kinds await to receive a Christmas box”

A “Christmas box” was an old way of referring to giving money to servants around the Christmas season

The Macquarie Dictionary also traditionally describes the day as the day “Christmas boxes or gifts were given to employees”

Constant Mews, the director of the Center for Religious Studies at Monash University, grew up in south London and remembers this ancient tradition that lasted into his childhood

“In England, when the garbage collectors came by on Boxing Day, they were given something,” he recalls

“During Advent, the church time before Christmas, there was a box in the parish church in which people put money for the poor,” says Professor Cusack

“After Christmas was over, it was opened and the money or gifts people had put in it were given to the poorest people in the community”

The 26 December was also the feast of Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr and a figure known for charity

Stephen is believed to have been a Greek Jew who lived in Jerusalem and converted to Christianity. He was accused of blasphemy and was later stoned to death after being tried

“I suspect it was purposely placed there after Christmas as a sobering memento,” says Professor Mews

“I think part of Boxing Day’s story was remembering that it’s not just about the cozy feeling of the Savior’s birth, it’s also about remembering that there is persecution and martyrdom in the Christian life can

“This is what this scroll of this feast of Saint Stephen reminded us of”

Professor Mews says Boxing Day dates back to 133 BC Chr Has links to the ancient Romans

In honor of the god Saturn, the Romans took part in a week-long December festival called Saturnalia, during which they celebrated, celebrated, drank and gave gifts

“They had a December madness – they were talking about December freedom – when the usual social restrictions were relaxed,” says Professor Mews

Certain traditions from Saturnalia such as giving, lighting candles and decorating houses with green wreaths are preserved as Christian festivals

In the early modern times, the charity Christmas boxes were also considered good luck charms

Professor Cusack says it was the “great age of exploration” when Columbus came to the New World in 1492

“The Christmas crate was generally just a small wooden box, and it was placed on each ship while it was still in port before embarking on its trading or exploration voyage,” she says

“It was blessed by a priest or minister, and a crew member who wanted to pray for a safe return put a small amount of money in the box”

The box was then sealed and kept on board for the remainder of the voyage

“When the ship got home safely, the box would be given to the priest or minister who had spared it in return for further prayers or thanksgiving services for everyone,” says Professor Cusack

They held the box until Christmas and shared its contents with their arms on Boxing Day


“At this point it has become a day off for people to relax by Christmas, the kind of religious piece is over, Everyone is having fun, and one way for the upper class to enjoy themselves was the hunt.” / p>

“So the idea that Boxing Day is a holiday where people can enjoy themselves is widespread”

Boxing Day was officially recognized as a bank holiday in England, Northern Ireland and Wales in 1871 after Queen Victoria incorporated it into public holidays law

The holiday is still welcomed by some countries that fall under the British Commonwealth, including Australia

“If you think of Australia now, the Sydney to Hobart yacht race begins on Boxing Day – and this is a playground for the rich again, a bit like the foxhunting tradition,” says Professor Cusack

“The reality is that Christmas gifts have become an important part of the trading cycle and of course now when we think of Boxing Day we think of sales,” says Professor Mews

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