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Catholic Activity: "Boxing" Day


  • boxes with savings and donations
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  • $$ $ $
  • For Ages

  • 6+
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A popular Christmas custom in Britain is "Boxing" on the feast of St. Stephen, December 26. Originating in medieval times, the priests would empty alms boxes in all churches on the day after Christmas and distribute the gifts to the poor. There is a similar tradition in Germany.


In imitation of this Church practice, the workers, apprentices, and servants kept their own personal "boxes" made of earthenware in which they stored savings and donations throughout the year. At Christmas came the last and greatest flow of coins, collected from patrons, customers, and friends. Then, on the day after Christmas, the box was broken and the money counted. This custom was eventually called "boxing" (giving and accepting presents). Each present is "boxed", and the day of present-giving is "boxing day."

A similar custom prevailed in Holland and some parts of Germany. Children were taught to save their pennies in a pig-shaped earthenware box. This box was not to be opened until Christmas, and consequently was called the "feast pig." From this custom, we now have our piggy banks.

Activity Source: How to Make Your House a Home by Rev. Bernard Stokes, O.F.M., Family Life Bureau, Washington D.C., 1955

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