So, while Christmas for many is a time of plenty and friendship, it can highlight the poverty or loneliness of some people's lives. December 26 celebrates the Feast of St Stephen, or Boxing Day as it is known in Britain. It was on this day, we are told in the carol that “Good King Wenceslas looked out”
King Wenceslas took the poor man food, drink and firewood, to cheer and warm him with the spirit of Christmas.
In Britain, Boxing Day originally got its name from the custom of distributing the money put in alms boxes for the poor people in a town or parish. The day after Christmas, the boxes were broken open and the money distributed by the priests. This custom, which dates back to Roman times, was stopped during the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century. 'Christmas Boxes' then became gifts of money, or tips, given to servants, trades people and those who had provided services throughout the year.
While the Feast of Stephen is specific to the Christian Tradition, the sentiments of King Wenceslas are not confined to one faith.
We host an open house on Boxing Day where we ask our friends to bring a donation to our parish food bank, and leftovers from their own Christmas celebrations to share with each other. It’s a relaxing time now that the mad rush of getting ready for Christmas is passed.
We always make mulled wine, have hot dishes, desserts and other things for everyone to share – and are humbled by the generosity of our neighbours and friends.