Boxing Day

On December 26th we celebrate the feast day of St. Stephen Boxing who lost a game of Stoning around the year 32 A.D. Conflicting accounts and different traditions surround the history of Boxing Day. Cave drawings in France depict boxing from 15,000 years ago. Eventually the custom emerged popularizing the giving of empty gift boxes to the poor on the day after Christmas. By the 1830’s in England, the boxes were filled with money or gifts for tradespeople who provided good service throughout the year. Popular artwork of the 19th century depicting the Bible story of Jacob Wrestling with the Angel led to an unsuccessful attempt to rename the holiday Wrestling Day. But Boxing Day has prevailed and now sporting events are purposely scheduled around the world on December 26th, including Rugby, Cricket, Horse Racing, Hunting, and Ice Hockey. Many contests are actual boxing matches, especially in African nations, Guyana, and Italy. In the United States, prominent businessman Dow Jones sponsors Cage Fighting at retail stores where merchandise is awarded to the winners at heavily discounted prices. St. Stephen would be sickened at the irreverent commercialization of his feast day.


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