Yayyy it’s Boxing Day!
What is Boxing Day and Why do we celebrate?
Firstly I must say, it has nothing to do with the sport of boxing.
The Bahamas was once a Colony of Great Britain, like most Caribbean and West Indian countries hence the observance and celebrating of Boxing Day. It is not enough for us to have only Christmas Day celebrations, we have added on this other Day.
Boxing Day is observed December 26th and is also a national holiday, or Bank Holiday as they call it in UK and Ireland, is a Day to spend with family and friends and to eat up all the leftovers of Christmas Day.
Why is the Day Called Boxing Day?
The origins of the day, however, are steeped in history and tradition, and there have been many arguments on the origins of the name Boxing Day.
All the answers below seem to come up when searching it’s origins, and being here in Scotland, there doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer either. So maybe it is one, or even all of the below listed.
1. A ‘Christmas Box’ in Britain is a name for a Christmas present.
2. Boxing Day was traditionally a day off for servants and the day when they received a ‘Christmas Box’ from the master. The servants would also go home on Boxing Day to give ‘Christmas Boxes’ to their families.
3. A box to collect money for the poor traditionally and placed in Churches on Christmas day and opened the next day – Boxing Day.
4. Great sailing ships when setting sail would have a sealed box containing money on board for good luck. Were the voyage a success, the box was given to a priest, opened at Christmas and the contents given to the poor.
5. After Christmas the sidewalks were littered with boxes from all the Christmas presents opened the day before.
Activities on Boxing Day: UK/Ireland
Boxing Day is a time to spend with family or friends, usually those not seen on Christmas Day itself.
In recent times, the day has become synonymous with many sports. Horse racing is particularly popular with meets all over the country. Many top football teams also play on Boxing Day.
Boxing Day is also a time when the British show their eccentricity by taking part in all kinds of silly activities. These include bizarre traditions including swimming the icy cold English Channel, fun runs and charity events.
*Fox Hunting on Boxing Day
Until 2004, Boxing Day hunts were a traditional part of Boxing Day but the ban on fox hunting has put an end to the hunt in its traditional sense. Hunters will still gather dressed resplendently in red hunting coats to the sound of the hunting horn. But, since it is now forbidden to chase the fox with dogs, the dogs now follow artificially laid trails.
UPDATE: The change of government in the UK in 2015 has once again raised the debate of reinstating foxhunting – watch this space.
There seem to be a new tradition for the Holiday emerging here in UK. Shopping! As most stores run after Christmas Sales, so a day that was usually reserved for spending with family, has turned into a mad shopping day. Similar to the Mad Black Friday in America.
Boxing Day in The Bahamas:
Each year the tradition of Boxing Day being a Holiday with all stores being closed, has also turned into a shopping Day. Not really because of after Christmas Sales, but rather for convenience and boasting the Economy as visitor arrivals are increased during this time of year as well all due in part to Junkanoo.
But one thing that will never change in the Bahamas on Boxing Day, that’s Junkanoo! Not to be confused with Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival, Junkanoo is a parade of music and colourful Customs where groups compete for cash prizes, being judge on Custom, dance and music. The parade which starts during wee hours of the morning of Boxing Day, is again held on New Year’s Day to ring out the OLD and ring in the NEW; and was named No. 1 on the USA 10 Best Reader’s Choice Caribbean Celebrations for 2014.
©Etta D. Richards