St. Stephen's, or Boxing Day. The old England St. Stephen's Day is chiefly celebrated •*• under the name of Boxing Day,— not for pugilistic reasons, but because on that day it was the custom for persons in the humbler walks of life to go the rounds with a Christmas-box and solicit money from patrons and employers. Hence the phrase Christmas-box came to signify gifts made at this season to children or inferiors, even after the boxes themselves had gone out of use. This custom was of heathen origin and carries us back to the Roman Paganalia when earthen boxes in which money was slipped through a hole were hung up to receive contributions at these rural festivals.
Aubrey in his " Wiltshire Collections" describes a trouvaille of Roman relics: "Among the rest was an earthen pot of the color of a crucible, and of the shape of a Prentice's Christmas-box with a slit in it, containing about a quart which was near full of money. This pot I gave to the Repository of the Royal Society at Gresham College."
Of the Prentice's Christmas-box, a recognized institution of the seventeenth century, several specimens are preserved, — small and wide bottles of thin clay from three to four inches in height, surrounded by imitation stoppers covered with a green baize. On one side is a slit for the introduction of money; the box must be broken before the money can be extracted.
Description: Eaton Centre Boxing Day 2010. Date: December 26, 2010. Author: Raysonho@Open Grid Scheduler.
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TEXT CREDIT: The Book of Christmas