Tuesday, the day after Christmas, is Boxing Day. My Canadian wife lamented that it was not a holiday observed in the United States. It’s a perfect day to recover from Christmas.
Boxing Day is celebrated in the United Kingdom and Ireland, two countries with old traditions, not the least of which includes chopping the heads off important but tiresome people, or the still-celebrated Guy Fawkes Day.
On Nov. 5, 1605, Guy Fawkes and some others were foiled in their attempt to set off an enormous load of gunpowder under the House of Lords in an attempt to kill King James I. Fawkes took the fall for it. Literally. While being led to his execution, he tumbled off the scaffold and broke his neck.
Back to the origins of Boxing Day, which still shows up on most English language calendars. Not that it matters much here.
In the United States, Boxing Day gets the same amount of attention as President Donald Trump’s birthday (June 14) or National Poop Day — the day after the Super Bowl, coincidentally the day of America’s highest caloric intake.
Most people — at least among those who actually know there is a Boxing Day — believe it has something to do with boxing up Christmas.
These people are morons. I say this because, for the average American, putting all the Christmas stuff away and dragging the tree to the curb don’t occur until March.
I’d heard of Boxing Day, but never gave it much thought. I simply believed it was the old English reference to the day when you boxed up the stuff you got for Christmas and returned it to the store for cash.
Either that or it was just a more refined way of saying “Face-Punching Day,” when those who didn’t get what they wanted for Christmas — puppy, new car, engagement ring, cruise — physically expressed their disappointment to the person they expected to get that gift from.
For years, I also believed that Boxing Day referred to the ancient English custom of cramming the least popular person in the shire into a stout box, adding rocks, nailing it shut, and then dragging it to the middle of a frozen pond.
The box was carefully monitored over the ensuing months. When it disappeared (sank), it meant that spring was at hand and therefore time to start preparing the fields for planting.
I liked this explanation, until it was pointed out that the Kirby family line wouldn’t have survived the fourth century if it were true.
Boxing Day ACTUALLY refers to — well, there are several versions, all with their own supporters. Here they are:
A Christmas box referred to the practice of the master giving servants individual boxes containing delicacies such as actual food and allowing them time off to take the box to their families.
It could also refer to the day when boxes of money collected for the poor were taken to a church and opened the day after Christmas.
Finally — and least likely, in my opinion — sailing ships would have a sealed box containing money placed aboard. If the voyage was a success, meaning the ship didn’t sink or was eaten by a whale, then the money was given to a church for opening at Christmastime.
I happen to know at least three sailors, including Sonny, and their stories about port calls don’t include giving money to churches.
My family and I have our own Boxing Day tradition. After a 24-hour period of unrestrained consumption, we need a day to lounge around and eat Alka-Seltzer straight from the box.