What Is Boxing Day and How Do Jamaicans Celebrate It?
You may have seen “Boxing Day” on the calendar – usually the next day or weekday after Christmas – and wondered what it is. It turns out there are as many stories about what Boxing Day is and how to celebrate it as there are recipes for the perfect Jerk Chicken. Here are a couple of common historical explanations for what Boxing Day is, and then we’ll talk about how Jamaicans celebrate it.
What Boxing Day Isn’t
Boxing Day isn’t a day when boxers come out to spar in the public view. Nor is Boxing Day in Jamaica akin to the United States’ Black Friday, though it has become like that in Britain and some of the other countries with ties to the United Kingdom. In fact, in Jamaica, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any shops open outside of those in the resorts.
Boxing Day’s Mythos
In Jamaica, Boxing Day is a national holiday – while it started with the British, it has continued as part of tradition. Some say that boxing day is the day boxes from presents were dealt with. Others say that it came from sailors who returned home and wanted to make donations to the local church – and those donations were given to those in need on Boxing Day.
Yet another version of the Boxing Day story has slave owners and the wealthy gifting workers and those they had enslaved the day off as well as left-over food and cast-off goods.
The British tradition has servants, the poor, tradespeople, and others presented with gifts on the say after Christmas. Some even treat it as a second Christmas, and as additional time to spend with family.
Boxing Day in Jamaica
In Jamaica, it is a day spent with family. Many head to the beach, and it’s a day of relaxation. It’s also a day that starts National Pantomime season, and many go to watch the opening pantomime. There’s dancing, humor, music, and colorful costumes.
Jamaicans also tip and remember those who provided services over the past year with gifts – from the post officer to the newspaper delivery person.
There are some sporting events that happen on this day as well – horse racing and cricket are two popular events.