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Few Americans have any idea that there is even such a thing as Boxing Day, let alone why the holiday, which celebrated in places such as Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, is a statutory holiday.

Despite its name, Boxing Day, has nothing to do with pugilistic competition. Nor is it a day for people to return unwanted Christmas presents or clear the house of empty boxes.

It is traditionally held on December 26th, though this can vary between countries some celebrating following Monday if December 26 falls on a Saturday or Sunday. Boxing day became a celebrated holiday in the middle of the nineteenth century, under Queen Victoria.

There are several claims to the origin of Boxing Day all of which might be correct in some form or other.

Some historians say on the day after Christmas, members of the merchant class would give boxes containing food and fruit, clothing, and/or money to trades people and servants. The gifts were an expression of gratitude much like when people receive bonuses, from their employer, for a job well done, today. These gifts, given in boxes, gave the holiday its name, “Boxing Day”. This theory goes a far back as Anglo-Saxon times when seasonal gifts were given to slaves.

Another theory is that the boxes placed in churches where parishioners deposited coins for the poor were opened and the contents distributed on December 26, which is also the Feast of St. Stephen. One of the seven original deacons of the Christian Church, who were ordained by the Apostles to care for widows and the poor.

This is remarked about in the Christmas Carol, “Good King Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephen”, where gifts of “flesh (meat), wine and wood” are made to a poor man struggling through the snow.

Today, Boxing Day is spent with family and friends with lots of fun and food, more relaxed than Christmas day with all the rush to cook Christmas dinner etc.

Like “Black Friday” in the USA it is also a major shopping day allowing the spending of those gift cards, vouchers and money given to them for Christmas.

Boxing day is also one of the most important sporting days in England, it is traditional Soccer and Rugby traditionally matches to be played against local rivals. Something originally done to avoid teams and their fans having to travel a long distance to an away game on the day after Christmas Day.

Perhaps this association with sport on December 26th lead to the myth of Boxing Day is associated with boxing.

The day is also a major day in the horse racing calendar, with amongst many other race meetings the King George VI Chase at Kempton racecourse in Surrey, taking place, the second most prestigious chase in England, after the Cheltenham Gold Cup. People follow horses year after year during these Boxing Day events such as the famous gray horse “Desert Orchid” or “Dessie” as he was known who won the race four years running.

Many family’s watch the sport and racing on television, sharing friendly bets and eating cold meat and pickle sandwiches.

For myself like many other people in the UK and around the world, it is “fun” day of the Christmas holidays, a day to share with those close to you, without the hassle of Christmas Day.

Barry



BARRY EVA (Storyheart)
Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book

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In the week when Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronalda agreed to transfer from Manchester United to Real Madrid for eighty million pounds ($131,215,730). The World Twenty20 crickets tournament is going on. in rugby the British and Irish Lions are touring South Africa heading for the first test match, France beat New Zealand, and lesser teams such as the USA, Canada, Russia etc are playing. And the Penguins finally pick up the Stanley Cup in the seventh and final play off game, more or less without the help of Sydney Crosby. I’d though for my Sunday blog I’d go into a sporting event, which unlike most of what I’ve listed above American’s actually follow and “almost” understand. The sport of NASCAR… okay so I use the term sport loosely.


When NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) was formed in 1948, there was a definite shortage of new cars in the post-war era. The feeling was that race fans wouldn’t stand for new cars being beat up on a race track while they were driving a rattletrap pre-war automobile, so “Modified” cars were the early staple of NASCAR racing. In some instances during the early days, rental cars were actually used as race cars by point-chasing drivers who had no locked-in “ride” for an event. Cars were typically either driven to the track or “flat-towed” behind pick-ups and family sedans. From those early days NASCAR now sanctions over 1,500 races at over 100 tracks in 39 states, Canada, and Mexico. NASCAR has presented exhibition races in Suzuka City, Japan, Motegi City, Japan, and Melbourne, Australia.

NASCAR is one of the most viewed professional sports in terms of television ratings in the United States. Internationally, NASCAR races are broadcast in over 150 countries. NASCAR holds 17 of the top 20 attended single-day sporting events in the U.S., and claims 75 million fans who purchase over $3 billion in annual licensed product sales. Many marketers consider NASCAR fans the most brand-loyal in all of sports and as a result, Fortune 500 companies sponsor NASCAR more than any other Motor Sport.

SO WHY NASCAR?

Okay so NASCAR is popular, and in the southern states perhaps even a religion, but where did the idea come from.

Just think… highly sponsored teams, vehicles with tremendous horse power, cheered on by thousands, going round and round in a circle, with spectators dressed up in the colors of their favorites, and spectacular crashes that add to the mix.

Basically NASCAR is a modern version of Chariot racing.

The most famous arena was the Circus Maximus, which was 600 meter’s long and 200 meter’s wide. It could hold up to 250,000 people (25% of the population of Rome). Seats ran in tiers around the arena Chariots were pulled by two or four horses, and were driven seven times around the ring at extremely fast speeds. Great skill was needed and sometimes accidents happened, drivers were also trampled to death on a regular basis. Big crowds turned out to watch the races. The racers were divided into teams, red, white, blue and green, and their fans wore these colours. Huge bets were placed on the races.

At one end of the track, there were boxes where the chariots waited. The judges sat above them and started the race by dropping a white handkerchief. A fence ran down the middle, called a Spine, and the chariots went around this. Chariots were pulled by two or four horses, and were driven seven times around the ring at extremely fast speeds. Great skill was needed and sometimes accidents happened, drivers were also trampled to death on a regular basis. Big crowds turned out to watch the races. The racers were divided into teams, red, white, blue and green, and their fans wore these colours. Huge bets were placed on the races.

At one end of the track, there were boxes where the chariots waited. The judges sat above them and started the race by dropping a white handkerchief (flag?).

Even today, these arenas would be spectacular. Seating 250,000 people, it would be the biggest stadium in the world. Today the largest stadium can hold 120,000 people, so this shows how far advanced the Romans were two thousand years ago.

So the next time, you see a NASCAR event, just think.

“Are you really watching modern day chariot racing?”



Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book
Across the Pond
http://acrossthepond-storyheart.blogspot.com/
http://across-t-pond.com


OTHER SUNDAY UK BLOGSABOUT

THE GRAND NATIONAL
WHY UK DRIVES ON THE LEFT
MOTHERS DAY ACROSS THE POND
ABOUT THE UNION JACK
ENGLISHMANS VIEW ON BASEBALL
WHAT IS BOXING DAY
BRITISH TV TRANSPLANTS
WHO WAS SAINT GEORGE?
BOBS YOUR UNCLE
SWEET FANNY ADAMS
EUROPE’S GOT TALENT – WELL PERHAPS
GOBSMACKED, BOBBIES AND AN ARM AND A LEG
BIG BEN… OR IS IT?
THE USA NEEDS A CITIZENS CHARTER

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