Monday, December 26, 2011

Nautical Connection to Boxing Day


In Britain, Boxing Day is usually celebrated December 26th, the day after Christmas. However, strictly speaking, Boxing Day is the first weekday after Christmas.

Behind the Tradition

December 26th was the day to share the Christmas Box with the poor. Traditionally wealthy people and homeowners in the United Kingdom would give a box containing a gift to their servants. Today Boxing Day is better known as a bank or public holiday which is observed in Great Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and some other Commonwealth nations.

To protect ships

During the Age of Exploration, when great sailing ships were setting off to discover new land, A Christmas Box was used as a good luck device. It was a small container placed on each ship while it was still in port. It was put there by a priest, and those crewmen who wanted to ensure a safe return would drop money into the box. It was then sealed up and kept on board for the entire voyage.

If the ship came home safely, the box was handed over to the priest in the exchange for the saying of a Mass of thanks for the success of the voyage. The Priest would keep the box sealed until Christmas when he would open it to share the contents with the poor.

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