Friday, December 26, 2008

Origins of Boxing Day

Boxing Day dates back to past centuries when it was the custom for the wealthy to give gifts to employees or to people in a lower social class, most especially to household servants and other service personnel.

Service personnel could and did include persons such as the milkman, your coal deliverer, and all persons who supplied your household throughout the year

As with Christmas itself, some elements of Boxing Day are also likely related to, and ultimately derived from, the ancient Roman pagan holiday of Saturnalia, which also had elements of gift giving and social role reversal.

Saturnalia is the feast with which the Romans commemorated the dedication of the temple of the god Saturn, which was on 17 December. Over the years, it expanded to a whole week, to 23 December to what we recognize as Christmas today.

Saturnalia became one of the most popular Roman festivals. It was marked by tomfoolery and reversal of social roles, in which slaves and masters ostensibly switched places.

The name 'Boxing Day' originates from the tradition of putting gifts in boxes for the less fortunate.

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