SHEPHERD TO SHEEP
(Neh 8:10) Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Boxing Day is December 26th of each year. The holiday is celebrated in Australia, Britain, New Zealand, and Canada. The holiday began in England, in the middle of the nineteenth century, under Queen Victoria. Boxing Day (also known as St. Stephen's Day) was a way for the upper class to give gifts of cash, or other goods, to those of the lower classes.
There seems to be two theories on the origin of Boxing Day and why it is celebrated. The first is that centuries ago, on the day after Christmas, members of the merchant class would give boxes containing food and fruit, clothing, and/or money to trades people and servants. The gifts were an expression of gratitude much like when people receive bonuses today from their employer for a job well done. These gifts, given in boxes, gave the holiday its name, "Boxing Day".
The second thought is that Boxing Day comes from the tradition of opening the alms boxes placed in churches over the Christmas season. The contents were distributed amongst the poor by the clergy the day after Christmas.
Today, Boxing Day is spent with family and friends with lots of food and sharing of friendship and love. Government buildings and small businesses are closed but the malls are open and filled with people exchanging gifts or buying reduced priced Christmas gifts, cards, and decorations. Some compare this day to our Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving) where retail discounts are plentiful.
To keep the tradition of Boxing Day alive, many businesses, organizations, and families donate their time, services, and money to aid Food Banks and provide gifts for the poor. Or they may choose to help an individual family that is in need.
Personally I had never heard about Boxing Day until I saw it on one of those universal calendars that include holidays from other countries. Don’t tell anyone, but my first thought was that it was a day perhaps in Scotland where they had boxing matches. Later my friend’s wife told me about Boxing Day and what it was and how she celebrated it when she was growing up in England. They probably later laughed their heads off!
But I think the real origin of Boxing Day goes back to Nehemiah’s Day. God’s people were celebrating their return from exile and the rebuilding of the walls around Jerusalem. Nehemiah and the leaders encouraged them to not mourn or weep after they heard the reading of the law. They were told to have the joy of the Lord and to enjoy God’s blessings He had bestowed on them. They were also reminded to “…send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared…”
When Christmas is over and we see how God has blessed us, let’s remember the poor and share our wealth (Gal 2:10; 1 Tim 6:17-19). Times are tough but there are people out there who are hurting more than we are. And let’s do this not just on Boxing Day but all through the year. It’s not a fight…it’s the right!