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Boxing Day origins from a middle ages celebration

Ainslee Hunter box's up some christmas gear on boxing day Photo: Blainey Woodham / Daily News
Ainslee Hunter box's up some christmas gear on boxing day Photo: Blainey Woodham / Daily News Blainey Woodham

ALTHOUGH Boxing Day may allude to rubbish left over from Christmas presents, or pugilistic punch-ons with stressed out family, its real origin is often overlooked.

There's lots of theories and folklores regarding the day after Christmas, but most commonly it's thought to have been carried on from St Stephen's Day in the Middle Ages.

The day was set aside to give gifts to the 'lower' echelons of British society, and fill boxes with money and presents for tradesman who had provided services throughout the year.

Although this is how Boxing Day became popular in our society, its origins are thought to date back to the late Roman era when Christians would leave a metal collection box outside of churches for the Feast of Saint Stephen.

Samuel Pepys was a Member of Parliament and Naval Administrator in the 1600's and wrote in his diary about the tradition of giving servants presents on Boxing Day, and collecting funds for helpful tradesman.

Servants were allowed to visit family after providing for the rich on Christmas Day, and were given gifts, bonuses and leftover food to take home.

Today for most Australians Boxing Day represents nursing a ridiculously full tummy, cleaning up mountains of wrapping paper and a visit to the shops to bag some bargains or return dodgy gifts.

Fans on our Facebook page had their own plans for Boxing Day.

Louanne King said she'd be relaxing and recovering from a big Christmas Day while Anthony Joyce seemed quite keen for the Boxing Day Cricket test.

Nathan Eyres said his definition of the day was "Corporate consumption (with a smile)."

Many Australians probably don't know that South Australia doesn't celebrate Boxing Day and instead holds its own Proclamation Day.

Formal celebrations commence on December 28, but Proclamation Day is held on the first working day after Christmas which usually falls on December 26.

This marks the day that South Australia was officially declared a British province in 1836.

If you've got your own Boxing Day tradition let us know in the comments section below.

Topics:  boxing day, christmas, community, public holiday



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