The true meaning of Boxing Day

Did you go shopping today? Did you get more stuff? The shopping centres were packed on Christmas Eve and packed again today. How much stuff do we need?

I’ve heard that we only use 20 per cent of what we own. We could give the other 80 per cent away and never miss it. I kind of think that’s true. I have my favourite clothes, favourite cook books, favourite mug, favourite bowl. There are only so many glasses I can drink of at any one time without making a mess. The rest of my stuff stays in the wardrobe or in the cupboard for most, if not all, of the time.

Instead of going to the Boxing Day sales, something that I’ve only done a couple of times, BoxesThe Hubby and I decided to put things into boxes instead. Things that we didn’t need, things we never used and things we will never use. Tomorrow I will drop these things off at the charity shop. Hopefully someone will need them and make good use them.

I thought we were turning Boxing Day on its head. I thought we were being revolutionary –  getting rid of stuff instead of getting stuff. But no. I looked up the origins of Boxing Day and what do you know? Boxing Day has its roots in ancient Rome and was called Saturnalia. It was a day in which the rich gave gifts to those who were not so rich. Later on the in England and Europe it was a day when the wealthy gave gifts to their servants.

And why is it called Boxing Day? There’s a link to the Feast of Saint Stephen, which falls on Boxing Day. The custom was to put offerings inside metal boxes left outside churches and this money was for the poor. In Britain tradesmen would receive Christmas boxes of money or presents as thanks. And employers would give their servants boxes of leftover food and perhaps gifts and money to take home to their families.

So it turns out that the history of Boxing Day is all about giving to those with less than ourselves. It’s not about receiving. It’s not about shopping. The Hubby and I aren’t being revolutionary at all. We’re keying into the original intention. The true meaning of Boxing Day. Mr & Mrs Stephens are upholding the tradition of the Feast of St Stephen and we did it without even realising. It’s all a bit spooky really.

Looking now at the boxes all packed and ready to be given to charity, at the empty spaces on our shelves, in our cupboards and in our wardrobe, I feel lighter. There’s more space and energy in our home. We were stuffed full of stuff. Now we are freer. It’s true – by giving, we receive.

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