If you know the English Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslas", you know of the tale of this King stepping out on the Feast of Stephen. This lyric is referring to Saint Stephen's Day, which falls on the day after Christmas. Many churches in western Christianity celebrate Saint Stephen's Day, which focuses on Deacon Stephen - a member of the Hellenistic Judaism church - the first Christian martyred saint. I am not going to tell of the martydom, but will note that the word deacon in Greek translates to "server" and originally referred to someone who waited on tables. Deacons are the lowest degree of the major orders of clergy in the Orthodox church, and their place is to serve the community and lead prayers. Saint Stephen is first mentioned as one of seven deacons ordered by the Apostles to distribute food and charitable aid to poorer members of the community in the early church. With returning to "Good King Wenceslas", the good Bohemian Duke Wenceslaus is carrying on the traditon of caring for the poor by heading out in harsh weather to give alms to a poor peasant on the Feast of Steven.
Referring to Saint Stephen's Day as "Boxing Day" is a long English tradition, where gifts are presented to the poor or those in some sort of service. The oldest known tradition comes from medieval royal and great houses, who on Christmas Day would hold large feasts of meat and sweets to show off their wealth to their guests, and then package up the left overs the following day and give these alms boxes to the peasants who worked their estates. Some sources refer to royalty traditionally bringing alms to the gate Another tradition noted often is the collection boxes - alms boxes - that churches would collect money all year and then open on the Feast of Stephen to portion out to the poor of their church community.
A bit of an aside here - the term Christmas Box originated in the 17th century, and represented a present or gratuity given at Christmas, and usually given to those who have rendered the giver services that the giver has not been directly paid for. Think of our modern day postal worker delivering mail, and which we treat them with a once a year gift of food or cash. With the British Industrial Revolution, as the business class of society began to develop and grow wealth, local business owners would take on the great house traditions by giving boxes of Christmas food and treats to their apprentices, assistants (cue a Christmas Carol) and servants.
We have seen how Boxing Day developed and where the term comes from, and even it's religous connection. The day is also observed as a bank/public holiday, which means that if it falls on a weekend, a week day is observed to subsitute for a day off. If Christmas falls on Saturday, and Boxing Day on Sunday, then Monday has businesses closed to observe Christmas, and Tuesday they are closed to observe Boxing Day. This year, with Christmas falling on Sunday that had us observing Boxing Day on it's normal day, and the subsitute day off for Christmas being observed today. We at Heart of the Home are observing these days off, and are opening tomorrow with a couple of different sales for you to come and shop in person!
Our Christmas Sale is from Dec 28th to Dec 31st with 40% off most of our remaining Christmas stock at the store! Please note this excludes Wrendale Christmas themed items.
Our Boxing Week Sale is also from Dec 28th to Dec 31st 25% off select Le Creuset, Fondues and Raclettes and select Glassware! Get ready for New Years celebrations with lovely roasts in quality cast iron, melted cheese on tasty treats and some sparkling new glassware!
Come visit us at the store and see what delights we have in store, 12539 102 Avenue in Edmonton's 124 Street shopping district in the Shops of High Street!