Monday, December 26, 2005

Happy Boxing Day

Happy Boxing Day to those who have Boxing Day today. Boxing Day is traditionally the day in which the upper class would give beneficences to those of the lower class. Christmas was the day on which you would have mutual exchange among equals; on Boxing Day, you would have one-way gift-giving by the rich to the poor. The day, of course, was not only the day after Christmas, it was the Feast of Stephen, as in the following Boxing Day classic:

Good King Wenceslas 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
Gath'ring winter fuel

"Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know'st 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 pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither."
Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind's wild lament
And the bitter weather

"Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not 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


There are still some people who make Boxing Day a day for the poor, but, of course, for most Canadians, Boxing Day has nothing to do with class or the poor; it's the day you return all the Christmas gifts you don't want and go shopping to get the Boxing Day sales. That's Canadian capitalism for you.

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