Happy Boxing Day! Or, as we say in the United States, Happy December 26! When my editor suggested I write about Boxing Day, I had no clue about the significance of the day. I knew that some countries consider it a federal holiday! After some research, I learned the cultural significance of Boxing Day - how it formed, how it's evolved, and what it's like today. And in true BG fashion, I'll be giving you tips and pointers on how to bring your baby along for the wild Boxing Day ride. Buckle up!
The History Of Boxing Day
Boxing Day originated in the UK, although the details of its beginning are contested. Samuel Pepys (A member of Parliament) wrote about "Christmas boxes" in his journals in the 1660s! The Oxford Dictionary defines the holiday as "the first weekday following Christmas Day" that dates back to the 1830s. Regardless of the year of its beginning, Boxing Day was traditionally a day to tip service people or the needy. People would put together Christmas boxes for post-men, errand-boys, servants, or other tradesmen in gratitude for their service. Estate masters would often send their servants a box of Christmas gifts, treats for their family, and a meal - another form of the Christmas box!
Boxing Day Traditions Evolved Over Time
In the UK, Boxing Day has been declared a national bank holiday since 1871. Other European countries have made it a sort of floating holiday. It gets even more confusing! December 26th is Boxing Day, but when Boxing Day falls on a weekend, it's often observed the following weekday. Learning this nuance gave me an A-HA! moment. As a kid, I never understood what "Observed" meant when I say it on the calendar! Boxing Day is also celebrated by Hong Kong, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, Australia, and New Zealand. In the most American of moves, Massachusetts Governor William Feld added Boxing Day to the state's official calendar - although it's not an employee holiday here in the States!
Some locales have started a Boxing Day Dip into the North Sea. Participants dress up - or down - and take an icy plunge into the water!
Modern Boxing Day Traditions
Two major factors define the modern Boxing Day experience: sports and shopping. Both football and rugby teams celebrate Boxing Day with big-ticket matches throughout their leagues. Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa schedule cricket matches and yacht races to follow Christmas day.
Nearly every country that observes Boxing Day fills the day with a second favorite past-time: SHOPPING! In a mad frenzy of sales similar to the USA's Black Friday, Boxing Day shopping is the biggest shopping day in the UK. Local press will report on the early queues, sold out items, and massive discounts. I love this modern tradition, personally - it's like DOUBLE CHRISTMAS! If you didn't get the gift you wanted on Christmas Day, just pick it up on a huge discount the next day!
Surviving Boxing Day With A Baby
No matter if you decide to dive into the crowds at the mall or watch your team win at their match/meet/race/thing, you're going to need the same basics to wrangle a baby. Be sure to bring: a baby carrier for hands-free shopping or cheering, snacks to stave off a hunger-fueled meltdown, and a toy to distract your kid. One thing I'd also suggest for surviving this kind of intense crowd experience with a baby? Bring headphones for them! Not the music-making kind, the make-loud-things-quiet kind. Perfect for sporting events to protect baby's hearing, of course! But even when you're shopping, it's nice to help baby drown out the noise of the crowd around you and drift off. That way, you can shop through naptime!
Modern-day Boxing Day is a post-Christmas shopping and sports extravaganza! While the history is rooted in tipping tradespeople, it's evolved into a shop-til-you-drop celebration. But don't drop the baby! With these pro-tips, you'll survive Boxing Day with a baby in tow, no matter where the holiday takes you.
Do you celebrate Boxing Day? Tell me your favorite tradition from Boxing Day on Twitter @pi3sugarpi3 with #BoxingDayBaby.