You must at some time have wondered what Boxing Day stands for. For the folk who aren’t sure, it sounds more like the sport, boxing. And one wondered why a day of boxing was just after the Christmas Day. Addressing a class of SS2 students sometime in 2003, Mr. Onu our English teacher whom I thought impeccable said it was a day of boxing, and to make his point clear, as though he sensed the class had not yet understood him in English, he demonstrated with balled fists, “Ọkpọ, iti ọkpọ.”
When I discovered that it meant a day for giving, I can’t remember. And certainly, it sounded nicer, the traditional giving of Christmas gifts in boxes. Giving on the day after Christmas has its origins in English traditions dated back to the 17th century when servants received Christmas boxes after waiting on their masters on Christmas Day. Masters gave to their subjects and nothing was actually expected in return. Through the years, this custom has spread and its significance has evolved, and the day has been made a public holiday in most countries. Such evolutionary concept is that it is a day for exchanging gifts in the sense of giving and receiving, and it is a day of giving to the less privileged as the religious and philanthropists proudly put it.
However, Mr. Onu is just one in the major lot with a mistaken notion of the meaning of Boxing Day. Today in some places is a day of blows at the ring. And some Nigerians think the same too. After all, we are not acquainted with the tradition of gifts in boxes. But now you know. So don’t be caught with the lot who think 26th December has anything to do with boxing or any form of fighting.
Have a Merry Christmas and a happy Boxing Day.