We hope you all had a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa or Winter Solstice! On this, the day after Christmas, ANOTHER tradition has been observed for centuries around the world…BOXING DAY. And, while this is a Dental blog, Boxing Day has absolutely NOTHING to do with teeth being knocked out!
During the Middle Ages, servants and tradesmen traditionally received tokens of appreciation from their patrons, employers and masters on the day AFTER Christmas…on the Feast of Saint Stephen’s Day. Because shops and workers closed on Christmas Day and household staff spent the day serving in the manor, the day after offered an opportunity for the more fortunate to share with those who provided these services.
For shopkeepers and merchants, they placed a “Christmas Box” on their counters where monetary gifts could be deposited as rewards for well-performed services throughout the year. For household servants, they were given boxes of treats, bonuses, gifts and food to take home and share with their families on their days off after Christmas. Churches celebrated the Feast of Saint Stephen by distributing alms and monetary gifts received during Christmas services with the poor and needy…as mentioned in the traditional Christmas carol “Good King Wencelas”: Good King Wencelas looked out on the Feast of Stephen…
While this practice can be dated back to the early days of the late Roman/early Christian era, formal mention of Boxing Day can be found in the dairies of Samuel Pepys in 1663. Today, this noble tradition continues in all the British provinces around the world and has even extended into the Royal Military branches, where officers and enlisted exchange places for the day!
Oddly enough, boxes weren’t even used in the early days of the observance! Instead clay pots with slits in the top…much like our modern “piggy banks” were placed on counters and in churches for the monetary deposits and then, the clerks would “smash” them to retrieve the contents — leading the British saying of a “smashing good time!”
And while we at The Smile Center like you to avoid “smashing” at all costs — ESPECIALLY your teeth — our own fearless leader Dr. Stephen Simpton and his family WOULD like to wish you all a Happy Boxing Day and thank you for YOUR patronage this past year!