Okay… let’s get REAL! Although we do genuinely love our family and friends, the holidays can bring out both the best – and often, THE WORST – in everyone. So, it’s not uncommon to associate a bit of “fighting” with these holiday gatherings. However, we’re not putting on the gloves to go a few rounds with guests today… instead, we’re going for a knock-out with some seasonal “Boxing Day” traditions! And, while this may seem to be coming out of the blue, it’s the PERFECT Christmas season finale.
THIS Might Sound Familiar!
Unless you’re from the United Kingdom, you might think: “WHAT on earth is ‘Boxing Day’?!?” And, for the most part, this actual holiday does remain a largely British and European observance. However, you HAVE heard of this before… just give a listen:
This entire Christmas carol is ALL ABOUT “Boxing Day” – otherwise known as the Feast of St. Stephen or St. Stephen’s Day! It all began centuries ago, when the “lower” classes actually worked on Christmas Day to serve the estate owners and their guests. Even among tradespeople and merchants, gifts among class equals were exchanged on or before Christmas. But, the following day gifts, year-end “tips” and employee bonuses were usually distributed to those less fortunate… in packed BOXES! And, as this became common practice among all British subjects, many recipients simply brought their own boxes to carry the goods home. And, the coolest thing of all – not only was NO return gift expected for their benefactors, but was actually taboo!
So, the official post-Christmas holiday of “Boxing Day” was born. And make no mistake about it, this is a REAL holiday across the Empire – offices closed, no banking or business, a true day-off to focus exclusively on charitable acts for those in need!
Another variation on this references the “poor boxes” in parish churches. See, priests opened the lock boxes – filled with donations collected throughout the year – at the end of Christmas Day, then distributed the monies to the poor, on the day AFTER.
St. Stephen…On A Mission
Although not one of the original 12 Apostles, Stephen did eventually earn a permanent place in Christian history. But first, the Apostles and congregation tasked him with fulfilling a vital mission in the early days of the church:
“Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose… widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. So the twelve [apostles] summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, ‘It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task…’ The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit…” (Acts 6:1-3, 5)
He accepted this challenge, and ultimately, in pursuit of his sacred mission, Stephen managed to tick-off ALL the wrong people! And, that’s how he ended up as the first Christian martyr. All because he just wanted to help the poor, the widowed, the infirm, the less fortunate! WOW… makes writing a check or clicking online seem like a pretty easy undertaking, in comparison to what St. Stephen suffered.
What Will YOU “Box” After Christmas?
So, as you possibly enjoy a “bonus” day-off today – as an extension of your Christmas holiday – OR try to just ease back into this short work week, consider starting your own Boxing Day tradition. Instead of mentally or verbally rehashing the “boxing matches” you may have witnessed (OR participated in) over Christmas, “box-up” your best intentions and put them to work helping OTHERS!
Regardless of how – or if – you choose to participate this year, you can always use it as the perfect launching pad into making 2018 the year of giving! And, as we bid farewell to 2017 at the end of this week, we sincerely thank you for your support and heart this year… and for the mountains we will move TOGETHER in the coming 12 months!
Who knows, maybe in the future, your charitable actions “on the Feast of Stephen” will be memorialized in song. And, in the meantime, connect with our online social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube – and become an internet sensation UNTIL that Christmas carol is written!