Boxing Day, or the Feast of Stephen
Today, in many places with connections to the United Kingdom, is Boxing Day. Boxing in this instance refers to the practice of preparing a Christmas box typically for postmen, errand boys, and other servants, consisting of gifts and gratuities to them for their service throughout the year. It was given on the day after Christmas since they were most often having to work and serve on Christmas Day.
From growing up in the family business, I really appreciate Boxing Day. We always closed December 26 and enjoyed the day. It was our holiday, since we would be open for nearly a complete work day on Christmas Eve. We would take Christmas and the day after as our holidays because it impacted fewer customers.
Today is also Saint Stephen's Day. A celebration of the life of Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr, with a feast in his honor. And the Feast of Stephen makes me think of a Bohemian king.
Good King Wenceslas, Saint Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia. Rex Iustus, the righteous king.
Wenceslas was considered a martyr and a saint immediately after his death, viewed as a monarch whose power stems mainly from his great piety, as well as from his vigor. “But his deeds I think you know better than I could tell you; for as is read in his Passion, no one doubts that, rising every night from his noble bed, with bare feet and only one chamberlain, he went around to God’s churches and gave alms generously to widows, orphans, those in prison and afflicted by every difficulty, so much so that he was considered, not a prince, but the father of all the wretched.”
Oh, if that could be said of us.
So in this time, when all the gifts have been given, and we are basking in what we have received, may we take time to remember the less fortunate, the poor, the widowed, the orphan, the imprisoned, and the low.
When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even;
Brightly shone the moon that night, tho' the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight, gath'ring winter fuel.
"Hither, page, and stand by me, if thou know'st it, telling,
Yonder peasant, who is he? Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence, underneath the mountain;
Right against the forest fence, by Saint Agnes' fountain."
"Bring me flesh, and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither:
Thou and I shall see him dine, when we bear them thither."
Page and monarch, forth they went, forth they went together;
Through the rude wind's wild lament and the bitter weather.
"Sire, the night is darker now, and the wind blows stronger;
Fails my heart, I know not how; I can go no longer."
"Mark my footsteps, good my page. Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter's rage freeze thy blood less coldly."
In his master's steps he trod, where the snow lay dinted;
Heat was in the very sod which the saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.