Nicola here, wishing you a Happy Boxing Day! I hope that your Christmas Day brought you all the things you hoped for. Today, 26th December, is the feast of St Stephen and in some parts of the world is celebrated by eating St Stephen’s Day Pie, which is similar to cottage pie but made using the leftover turkey and ham from the Christmas Day meal. The tradition of Stephening takes place in some English villages, whereby parishoners descend on the rectory and ask for as much free bread, cheese and ale as they can drink!
The name “Boxing Day” can be traced back to the late Roman/early Christian era, when a special collection was made in metal boxes outside churches to be given to the poor and needy. It is this idea that is thought to have inspired the carol Good King Wenceslas who, on the Feast Day of Stephen, set out through the snow with his trusty page to take food and wine to a poor peasant.
From the Middle Ages onward it became the custom to give money and other gifts in the shape of “Christmas Boxes” to servants, who were also given 26th December off to visit their families. This developed into the Victorian tradition of giving gifts to tradesmen such as the lamplighter and the postman.
These days Boxing Day is often a day for visiting the family and we have lots of relatives coming to eat with us today. A different sort of winter visitor comes to our garden too – this beautiful fieldfare, feasting on the apples in our garden!