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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Boxing Day Possibilities


I perceive wonderful possibilities in celebrating Boxing Day, a day we here in the United States basically do not observe.

No one really seems to know the origin of Boxing Day, a holiday celebrated on the Day after Christmas primarily in nations with a link to Great Britain:


The best clue to Boxing Day's origins can be found in the song, "Good King Wenceslas." According to the Christmas carol, Wenceslas, who was Duke of Bohemia in the early 10th century, was surveying his land on St. Stephen's Day — Dec. 26 — when he saw a poor man gathering wood in the middle of a snow storm. Moved, the king gathered up surplus food and wine and carried them through the blizzard to the peasant's door.



The alms-giving tradition has always been closely associated with the Christmas season — hence the canned food drives and Salvation Army Santas that pepper our neighborhoods during the winter — but King Wenceslas's good deed came the day after Christmas, when the English poor received most of their charity.


King Wencelas didn't start Boxing Day, but the Church of England might have. During Advent, Anglican parishes displayed a box into which churchgoers donated money. On the day after Christmas, the boxes were broken open and their contents distributed among the poor, thus giving rise to the term "Boxing Day." Maybe.


But wait: there's another possible story about the holiday's origin. The day after Christmas was also the traditional day on which the aristocracy distributed presents (boxes) to servants and employees — a sort of institutionalized Christmas bonus party. The servents returned home, opened their boxes, and had a second Christmas on what became known as Boxing Day.

I have celebrated Boxing Day in small ways over the past ten or so years. For me, as the legend of  Good King Wenceslas implies, it is a day to share my Christmas good fortune with the less fortunate than I.

I wonder at the possibilities of doing the same every day of the year: Boxing Day Everyday. What a wonderful way to serve humanity in accordance to God's will:

  • When you help the poor you are lending to the Lord--and he pays wonderful interest on your loan!  ( Prov. 19:17)
  •  But if someone who is supposed to be a Christian has money enough to live well, and sees a brother in need, and won't help him--how can God's love be within him ? (1 John 3:17)
  • Little children, let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions. (1 John 3:18 )
  • Anyone who oppresses the poor is insulting God who made them. To help the poor is to honor God. (Prov. 14:31)
  • The Christian who is pure and without fault, from God the Father's point of view, is the one who takes care of orphans and widows, and who remains true to the Lord--not soiled and dirtied by his contacts with the world. (James 1:27)
  • Give fair judgment to the poor man, the afflicted, the fatherless, the destitute. Rescue the poor and helpless from the grasp of evil men. (Ps. 82:3-4)
  • He who shuts his ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in his own time of need. (Prov. 21:13
  • If you give to the poor, your needs will be supplied! But a curse upon those who close their eyes to poverty. (Prov. 28:27)
  • Happy is the generous man, the one who feeds the poor. (Prov. 22:9)
  • Tell those who are rich not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone, but their pride and trust should be in the living God who always richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give happily to those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them. By doing this they will be storing up real treasure for themselves in heaven--it is the only safe investment for eternity! And they will be living a fruitful Christian life down here as well. (1 Tim. 6:17-19)
  • It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others. (Eph 2:10)
  • The axe of his judgment is poised over you, ready to sever your roots and cut you down. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire." The crowd replied, "What do you want us to do?" "If you have two coats," he replied, "give one to the poor. If you have extra food, give it away to those who are hungry." (Luke 3:9-11)
  • Dear brothers, what's the use of saying that you have faith and are Christians if you aren't proving it by helping others? Will that kind of faith save anyone? If you have a friend who is in need of food and clothing, and you say to him, "Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat hearty," and then don't give him clothes or food, what good does that do? So you see, it isn't enough just to have faith. You must also do good to prove that you have it. Faith that doesn't show itself by good works is no faith at all--it is dead and useless. But someone may well argue, "You say the way to God is by faith alone, plus nothing; well, I say that good works are important too, for without good works you can't prove whether you have faith or not; but anyone can see that I have faith by the way I act." James there still some among you who hold that "only believing" is enough? Believing in one God? Well, remember that the demons believe this too--so strongly that they tremble in terror! Fool! When will you ever learn that "believing" is useless without doing what God wants you to? Faith that does not result in good deeds is not real faith. (James 2:14-20)
  • "Then I, the King, shall say to those at my right, 'Come, blessed of my Father, into the Kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world.  For I was hungry and you fed me; I was thirsty and you gave me water; I was a stranger and you invited me into your homes; naked and you clothed me; sick and in prison, and you visited me.'  "Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Sir, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you anything to drink? Or a stranger, and help you? Or naked, and clothe you? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?' "And I, the King, will tell them, 'When you did it to these my brothers you were doing it to me!' Mat. Then I will turn to those on my left and say, 'Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry and you wouldn't feed me; thirsty, and you wouldn't give me anything to drink;  a stranger, and you refused me hospitality; naked, and you wouldn't clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn't visit me.' "Then they will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?'  "And I will answer, 'When you refused to help the least of these my brothers, you were refusing help to me.'"And they shall go away into eternal punishment; but the righteous into everlasting life." (Matt 25:34-46)
  • The second most important is similar: 'Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.' (Mat. 22:39) 







18 comments:

  1. I enjoyed the video,thanks for sharing it.

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  2. What a lovely post, Nick. I am going to write about Boxing Day on the school blog, so I'll link yo you. You are right - we should think about others and have "Boxing Day" every day! Hope you are having a good one.

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  3. Thanks, Nick. I had heard of Boxing Day but was unclear as to its significance. I enjoyed reading these possible origins and the scriptures related to the importance of giving.

    Why am I not surprised that you have observed Boxing Day for many years?

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  4. We only think of boxing day as a bank holiday. Thank you for telling us more about it.

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  5. WOO HOO! Nick, I am accessing your blog on my new i-Mac which Santa brought me!

    I am beside myself with excitement. Yours is the first blog I've visited. Gotta leave for work...

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  6. That is a very good idea, Nick.

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  7. Mike G.: Thank you, friend. I am glad that your enjoyed it.

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  8. Welshcakes Limoncello: Thank you! I am looking forward to reading your Boxing Day post.

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  9. San: I am delighted that you now have a computer that can access Nick's Bytes! I'll bet that it can do a lot of other neat things, too. I'm looking forward to some really exciting posts on A Life with a View! [:-)

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  10. Anonymous: Thank you. ANd thank you for visiting Nick's Bytes.

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  11. kanga n Roo: Thank you, my friends. I hope that you have a delightful Box9ing Day bank holiday tomorrow.

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  12. Back in the day, our family knew all about Boxing Day. As I recall hearing, it was the day the hired help, the “little people” got to celebrate Christmas. They had had to work to serve the gentry on Christmas, and so they got the next day off (while the gentry slept off something). The Box idea came from the idea that these downstairs maids and other servants were given boxes of goodies to celebrate the birth of Messiah. So, it was more socio-economic than religious or even political. It probably, I’d guess, helped stave off rebellions. Charity? Not to me. Justice? Yes. I’ve worked for too many Simon Legree’s in my lifetime. I’ll take every Boxing Day I can get away with. .


    Merry Xmas, from a guy who took most of Boxing Day off.

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  13. Angus: Thank you, my friend. I really think it would be just if everyone shared a bit of their wealth with someone less wealthy each day.

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  14. DGF: True, if you accept that origin of the story. However, we are free to interpret and accept what we choose. Therefore, I prefer the King Wenceslas legend which earned the dude the title "the Good." Hell, I don't know if he was good. Being a 10th Century Duke of Bohemia he may have been a blood-thirsty as other 1oth Century aristocrats. However, the legend I find acceptable to my purposes and I really think the idea of sharing with other every day of the year a hopeful in less than realistic dream. OK?

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  15. This is a very good idea, Saintly Nick.

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  16. I have heard those explanations for Boxing Day, too.

    We usually end up at the beach on Boxing Day taking left over Christmas Day goodies for a picnic under the trees. This year it was wet so it was just nice to relax for the day and recover...until next year!

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