11 Boxing Day

Boxing Day actually isn't for a few weeks yet, but it's good to know about. It occurs annually on the day after Christmas, known in the Christian calendar as the Feast of Stephen (when Good King Wenceslaus looked out). In England, it was traditional for tradesmen and boys to pay holiday visits throughout the neighborhood, carrying boxes for the collection of coins. In a way, it was a little like tipping the mailman at Christmas.

In keeping with the general idea of giving gifts to the poor, it was customary to distribute the contents of the alms box to the poor and needy on Boxing Day.

And now for Good King Wenceslaus, who for all we may know, might have started the tradition of helping the poor on the Boxing Day:

Good King Wenceslaus looked out on the feast of Stephen.
When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even.
Brightly shone the moon that night, though the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight, gathering winter fuel.

Hither page and stand by me if thou knowst it telling
Yonder peasant, who is he, where and what his dwelling?
Sire, he lives a good league hence, underneath the mountain,
Right against the forest fence, by Saint Agnes' fountain.

Bring me flesh and bring me wine, bring me pinelogs hither
Thou and I will see him dine when we bear them thither
Page and monarch forth they went, forth they went together
Through the rude winds wild lament, and the bitter weather.

Sire the night is darker now, and the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart I know now how, I can go no longer.
Mark my footsteps my good page, tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter's rage freeze thy blood less coldly.

In his master's steps he trod where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod which the saint had printed
Therefore Christian men be sure, wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing