You talk a lot about Boxing Day, but I have no idea what that is?
One of the many, many advantages of being a citizen of a Commonwealth country (the other being that our dream of representing our country at an international level in sport is not crushed until much later in life thanks to the inclusion of lawn bowls in the Commonwealth Games) is that we get Boxing Day.
On this, the happiest day of the year, the pressure is off but the fun is on.
It is an official Public Holiday that falls on the day after Christmas – or on the following work day if Christmas falls on a Saturday.
Many will try to tell you what the origins of Boxing Day are, but no one really knows (or cares, we all just freaking LOVE it). Most likely though it is to do with servants of wealthy people being forced to work on Christmas Day but given the next day off – with a box of stuff from the boss to help the celebration.
Good Kind Wenceslas did his good works on Boxing Day (the Feast of Stephen, which is St Stephen’s Day, December 26) , giving stuff to poor people.
While some people tend to occupy themselves with more getting on Boxing Day, via the bloodsport that is the Boxing Day Sales, there is doubtlessly a lot of giving of unwanted gifts into charity bins.
Confusingly, there were two Saint Stephens, one of whom was stoned to death for believing in Jesus.
In a bizarre and cruel homage to this, ‘Wren Boys’ in Ireland would blacken their faces and stone wrens to death on Boxing Day. They would then carry their catch around the town knocking on doors and asking for money. Nowadays, the Wrens Boys still dress up and parade around town but without dead birds and collecting money for charity instead.
One of the St Stephens was the patron saint of horses, so there has traditionally been a fox hunt on this day in England. (Clearly the patron saint of foxes has been derelict in his duty). While fox hunting is now banned in the UK, apparently some toffy types still like to wear their gear and participate in a “hunt” of artificially laid scents.
If you think wealthy people looking stupid is a tragic outcome, don’t panic. After their cracker year in Britain, coming in Number 2 in Colossal Cock-ups for 2016, the May Government focusing their collective expertise on trying to overturn the fox-hunting ban to reinstate a “traditional way of life”.
Here in Australia, our traditions are also under threat. Traditionally, we gather around television screens with ham on toast to watch the Australian cricket team savage a visiting team. Sadly, this tradition has been under threat for some years now – it is more than a decade since the Patron Saint of Cricket, Shane, stopped terrorising white-clad men with his balls and moved on to Liz Hurley.
Boxing Day is a still a wonderful day, where we can all tell our houseguests they’ll just need to help themselves to whatever is in the fridge since the servants are taking the day off.
Then we can sip gently on our cup of tea and return to the book we bought ourselves for Christmas.