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Boxing Day and Kwanzaa

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Both Boxing Day and Kwanzaa are celebrated on December 26th of every year, but Kwanzaa goes on until January 1st. Check out the history behind these two very different holidays.

What Is Boxing Day?

With some stores open every day of the year, some of us know what it's like to work on Christmas Day. The difference between working now and back in Medieval times is significant. Back then, servants had to wait hand and foot on lords and ladies - and some of them weren't always that nice. While the family feasted on large meals and joyfully opened up presents, the paid staff continued to work very hard. But this doesn't mean servants had to go without Christmas and presents. The day after Christmas, faithful servants or employees would get a Christmas Box.

When Did It Start?

The first Boxing Day is believed to have started in the Middle Ages. This is just a guess cuz the exact date isn't known. How Boxing Day started is a question as well. Some say it started with the giving of Christmas Boxes, like the story above. Others think it was named for the tradition of priests opening boxes of goods left by parishioners during the holiday season. The contents were given out to the poor.

A Shopping Holiday

Only in the last century has Boxing Day become a holiday. Boxing Day is a holiday celebrated in Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. In other countries, it is celebrated by a different name - in Ireland it's known as St. Stephans Day and in Italy as Santo Stefano. If December 26th falls on Saturday or Sunday, the public dedicates the following Monday to Boxing Day.

What Is Kwanzaa?

Although some people believe this holiday is a substitute for Christmas, it's not a religious holiday. Kwanzaa, which means "first fruit of the harvest" in Swahili, is an African-American holiday and is a time to focus on the traditional African values of family. For seven days, Kwanzaa is celebrated, each day focusing on a different principle or belief known as the Nguzo Saba.

Seven Principles of Nguzo Saba

  • Umoja (oo-Mo-jah) - unity
  • Kujichagulia (koo-gee-cha-goo-LEE-yah) - self-determination
  • Ujima (oo-GEE-mah) - collective work and duty
  • Ujamaa (oo-JAH-mah) - cooperative economics
  • Nia (nee-YAH) - purpose
  • Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah) - creativity
  • Imani (ee-MAH-nee) - faith

When Did It Start?

Besides bonding with families and communities, Kwanzaa is also a time to reflect on African-American history, heritage and culture. Kwanzaa was first created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga who was an important person in the civil rights movement. Today, millions of people take part in the feasts and celebrations every year.

Have Your Say

How do you celebrate Boxing Day or Kwanzaa? Leave a comment and let us know!

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