December 26th is Boxing Day

In Jamaica as well as several former British colonies, December 26th is known as Boxing Day. I celebrated Boxing Day for many years before I heard an explanation of its origins. Surprisingly, it isn’t about boxing.

According to the story, Boxing Day got its name from the practice by wealthy British landowners from the Middle Ages of giving their servants, who had to work on Christmas Day, boxes of leftover food and gifts on the day after Christmas. I’m not sure if that tradition was exported to Jamaica during slavery — more than likely it did — but we inherited Boxing Day, which is also a public holiday.

Here, Boxing Day is an extension of joy and revelry of Christmas. Since Christmas Day this year fell on a Sunday, Christmas will be observed on Monday and Boxing Day will be pushed to Tuesday, December 27th.

On Boxing Day, the beaches are crowded, people go from house to house visiting family and friends and sharing Christmas cheer. Typically, large amounts of fruit cake, sorrel, rum, beer, goat soup, curried goat and ham are consumed.

Scene from Pantomime, image from the Internet
Scene from Pantomime, image from the Internet

Boxing Day here is also the day when Pantomime, a tradition 70 years old, opens. Pantomime, which was also inherited from Britain, has been totally Jamaicanized and incorporates local folklore, culture and everyday issues.

So, in the true spirit of Boxing Day, I’m off to visit a few friends. Tomorrow, I’ll be at the beach.

Happy Boxing Day!

8 comments on “December 26th is Boxing Day

  1. Who knew? I celebrated that holiday for years and never knew it had nothing to do with sports… In retrospect, it would make sense that it’s not about that violent sport. Good job on the dig Marcia! 🙂

  2. I think I heard of this day recently and I thought, ‘Why would people celebrate getting beat up?’ It’s still a little strange, that it continues to be a holiday. Kinda reminds me of Thanksgiving a bit. Although I’m not keen on the origin of that holiday. Or the 4th of July. Maybe that’s just me being a cynic though. I’m working on it.

  3. We have Boxing Day back in Australia, as you might well expect. I had just hear the part about giving the servants a present.

    Love your pantomime shot!

  4. I think it’s common knowledge here, the reason for Boxing Day. My kids asked about the reason for Boxing Day this year, and they wouldn’t believe me when I told them.

    I think in some countries they don’t open presents until Boxing Day?

    Any excuse for a holiday, eh? Even better when you can push it back a bit to get more holidays!

  5. I can imagine they laughed when you told them. I guess if we go back to the origins of many thing we now take for granted, we’d be surprised at how they started. Who cares anyway if it gives us an extra day off.
    I’d never heard that. I’ve heard about opening on Christmas Eve. Interesting how customs change.

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