Friday, 26 December 2014

Boxing Day

I feel sorry for those poor, benighted countries where St Stephen's Day is simply another working day.  The great feast of Christmas is over, done and dusted in just one day.  All that build up, all that excitement - and, whoosh, it's over.  What a let down!

Here, in what really should be considered as the cradle of modern civilisation, we spread Christmas over at least two days.  Of course, Christmas really starts for many (if not most) people on 24th December, Christmas Eve.  Most offices seem to close down at lunch time and by 7.00pm practically all trains across the country have stopped running.  This is to give people the chance to get suitably lubricated before the day itself.

On Christmas Day itself, one of the secular happenings that has become a tradition is the Queen's Christmas broadcast.   It started in 1932 when the Queen's grandfather, King George V, first broadcast a Christmas message on the radio.  There have, since then, been just three years when no broadcast was made by the sovereign - 1936, 1938 and 1969.

I wonder if the Queen decorated the tree herself?

There are traditions associated with 26th December as well. St Stephen's Day is more commonly known in this country as Boxing Day.  The generally accepted source of the name is that it was the day on which the domestic staff in large houses were given their Christmas gifts - Christmas boxes - by their employers.  It has long been considered a day for sporting activities, although the old tradition of the Boxing Day meet of fox hunts has given way since the banning of fox hunting.  There is still a full fixture list of professional football, although there is an effort made to avoid long distance travel given the continued absence of public transport.

Another, probably more recent, tradition is that the sales start on Boxing Day so many shop workers are able to enjoy only one day off.  Mind you, these days there seem to be sales on all year.  As far as I am concerned, the Boxing Day sales are best left to others.  For me, this is another holiday.

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