Friday, December 25, 2009

The Scoop on Boxing Day

     I was asked today to write a little something about Boxing Day...apparently, having something of a background and interest in history (7 years teaching Social Studies can do that to a person), meant I had the kind of expertise on the subject that would lend credibility to a posting.
     Actually, my only real expertise on Boxing Day was shopping.
     However, the tradition for the day was as follows. Boxing Day was the day when the British Empire's gentry would distribute gifts to their servants, hired help and whatnot. Naturally, I'm assuming those fine folk were working on Christmas Day to serve their masters' families, and were clearly not of any stature to partake in gift exchanges on Christmas Day with those whom they served. So, gifts and tokens would be boxed and set aside to be given the day after Christmas.
     These days, of course, we mainly think of Boxing Day as the day for sales, and lining up at ungodly hours in the hopes of getting that one, precious, and severely marked-down piece of electronics they've been advertising on TV for 3 weeks prior. To me, it's a scam. Lure you in with rock-bottom sale pricing for an item they'll inevitably only have 1-2 of anyway. But hey, since you're here (and have been waiting/freezing since 4am), why not upgrade to that other item, which frankly, is better anyway, and still a great deal at $100 more than you'd budgeted.
   Has my cynicism crept in? Oops!
   I have to hand it to Americans...they have "Black Friday", which is THE shopping day for the holidays. It takes place on the Friday immediately after Thanksgiving (late November), which means you can actually buy gifts for Christmas on sale....before Christmas. The "black" label comes from the (traditional) notion that this is the day that pulls retailers into the black on finances. Not sure that's the case this year or last, but there you have it.
     I just remember on Boxing Day, heading to the mall with Mum to pick through what was left of holiday items, hoping to stock up for next year's holidays (cheap cards! wrap! bows! lights!) on the cheap. The more I think about it, Boxing Day - a British tradition - works out best for Orthodox Ukrainians, who are smart enough to wait 'til January for their Christmas celebrations.
     I can't say I entirely miss Boxing Day now that I live in the US, but I do have a sympathetic ear for my American colleagues who whine (jealously) about all the additional holidays Canadians get.
    Happy Holidays and good luck with the shopping!