Christmas traditions

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Guest Blog -- Rod Martin, Senior Director of New Media

Last week, at the Communications Division Christmas luncheon, I shared some thoughts about Christmas and the traditions that build up around this time of year.

We read through the biblical account from Luke (which my family does every Christmas morning) and I shared some thoughts about what that "first Christmas" might have been like. We're not given every detail obviously, but what we are given provides some deep insights into God's character and plan.

Then I shared our tradition surrounding the day after Christmas--Boxing Day.

For those of you who read Ken's blog from Australia, Canada, the UK and many other parts of the world, you already know what "Boxing Day" is and what I might be talking about. I was born in Australia, and lived there until I was 10. My family moved to Canada, where I lived until I went to university. After seminary, my wife and I moved back to Canada and have now lived here in the States for almost 2 years. We're having a lot of fun introducing our new friends to Boxing Day.

There are several prominent stories behind the origins of Boxing Day:

  • In feudal times, Christmas was a reason for a gathering of extended families. All the serfs would gather their families in the manor of their lord, which made it easier for the lord of the estate to hand out annual stipends to the serfs. After all the Christmas parties on December 26th, the lord of the estate would give practical goods such as cloth, grains, and tools to the serfs who lived on his land. Each family would get a box full of such goods the day after Christmas. Under this explanation, there was nothing voluntary about this transaction; the lord of the manor was obliged to supply these goods. Because of the boxes being given out, the day was called Boxing Day.
  • In churches, it was traditional to open the church's donation box on Christmas Day, and the money in the donation box was to be distributed to the poorer or lower class citizens on the next day. In this case, the "box" in "Boxing Day" comes from that one gigantic lockbox in which the donations were left.
  • Because the staff had to work on such an important day as Christmas Day by serving the master of the house and their family, they were given the following day off. Since being kept away from their own families to work on a traditional religious holiday and not being able to celebrate Christmas Dinner, the customary benefit was to 'box' up the left over food from Christmas Day and send it away with the servants and their families. Hence the 'boxing' of food became 'boxing day'.
(Source - Boxing Day - Wikipedia)
Whatever the origins, Boxing Day in our home has meant something a little different. Almost every year, we hold an open house on the day after Christmas. It usually goes for 3 or 4 hours and we invite neighbors and friends over to just "stop in and relax" for a while. They can't bring anything--it's usually just Christmas goodies, apple cider etc... so it's not expensive. Over the years we've invited some groups of people that we know are not Christians -- neighbors, friends... one year my entire hockey team, another year everyone at the dojo where I was taking karate... you get the idea. At some point in the afternoon, my daughter would read the Christmas story from the Luke (who can resist a cute 5 or 6 year old reading the Bible?) and we'd take a few moments to reflect on it. I didn't "preach", but I did share the true meaning of Christmas with my friends. What a blessing over the years!

So that's my "Boxing Day" story. What are some of your Christmas traditions? We'd love to hear some of them! Go to our feedback page and let us know (try to keep it short though). We'll publish them here in Ken's blog over the next few days.

God Bless and have a wonderful Christmas celebrating the birth of the Savior,

Rod

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