Editor's note: Christmas isn't the only holiday celebrated this season by Columbia County residents. With that in mind, The News-Times is highlighting several other holidays, their history and those who observe them. Today's second installment takes a look at Boxing Day.
Lorrie Gibson says that when she moved from Toronto to Columbia County with her husband Brian Hoeniger she was disappointed with just one thing: no Boxing Day celebration.
"I was disturbed when I came down and it wasn't here,'' said Gibson, who along with her husband recently moved to Columbia County for the creation of a Professional Disc Golf Association headquarters at Wildwood Park in Appling. "Oh, you don't know what you're missing. Let me tell you.''
Boxing Day is a holiday that has nothing to do with the sport or the boxes left over from Christmas Day presents, but it does often involve fighting a crowd.
"Now, it's the big day for sales. So now you go out shopping,'' she said of how the holiday is celebrated in Canada, adding "Remember when they were advertising on TV at midnight on Thanksgiving? It's kind of like that. And it's pretty embarrassing.''
In Canada, Boxing Day is observed the day after Christmas, Dec. 26, and is considered an official holiday, offering residents a day off work.
"It's just another day (off), which is really nice because I found it hard if you have Christmas off, bang, to go right back to work after all that activity and eating and you've had visitors and whatnot,'' Gibson said.
The origin of Boxing Day, some say, goes back to the days when servants would receive handouts from their employer in a box the day after Christmas. Dec. 26 also is considered the Feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr.
However, the religious side of the holiday isn't observed as part of Boxing Day, Gibson said.
"It's not connected to the religious part of Christmas at all,'' she said. "And in fact, in days gone by ... it was really a holiday for the servants because they would work Christmas day in the big house, and on the following day that's when the lord of the manor... would present them with a gift...''
According to Canada's official Canadian Heritage Web site, www.pch.gc.ca, the term Boxing Day could derive "from the opening of church poor boxes that day; maybe from the earthenware boxes with which boy apprentices collected money at the doors of their masters' clients.
''Nowadays, we often see, in certain families, gifts (boxes) given to those who provide services throughout the year.''
According to the Web site www.snopes.com, a site that seeks to dispel myths or rumors, there is a false claim listed that Boxing Day is based on the ridding of empty boxes from Christmas presents. Instead, the site states that the holiday likely goes back to the days when cash or durable goods were given to the lower class, possibly in a box, the day after Christmas as a Christmas bonus of sorts.
These days, many miles away from their native home, Gibson and Hoeniger aren't able to truly celebrate Boxing Day, as it isn't officially observed in the United States. But that doesn't mean that with every sight of a box this time of year they don't have memories of a little-thought-of holiday in Georgia.
"It's not a spiritual, religious holiday, but it is a holiday,'' Gibson said.
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