A Very British Christmas Part 7: Boxing Day

You know me, I like to see both sides of the enormous cultural gulf between America and Britain. I like to shrug at the things we do differently, roll my eyes in an amused fashion, and tut upwards, as if to say “what are we like, eh?”

But there are limits.

Why, America, do you not bother with Boxing Day? What’s the rationale there? Is it because you’ve already had a lot of days off, what with Thanksgiving and Christmas Day? Do you not wish to enjoy another day in which you can look over your pile of presents, and then eat leftover turkey and watch another blockbuster movie? Are you that motivated that you have to get straight back to work as soon as is humanly possible?

I mean sure, whatever the original purpose of Boxing Day may have been – either for rich people to give their servants a day off with a box of goodies for the family or a day to deliver offerings to the church (left in a metal box) on the feast of St. Stephen – it does not serve that purpose now. Some families like to leave the unwrapping of gifts to Boxing Day, but these are often the kind of families who also boast of getting up early on Christmas morn and going for a nice bracing walk. It’s a lovely thing to do, but a bit self-consciously healthy for most British tastes.

Still, if that is what you wish to do, then that option is left open to you, as Boxing Day is officially a bank holiday, which means most of the shops are shut.

But by no means ALL the shops. Boxing Day is also traditionally the first day of the post-Christmas sales. So a sizable chunk of the population will be standing in a queue, ready to barge older and frailer people out of the way in the quest for a knockdown sofa.

And if you don’t fancy shopping, your football or rugby team will oblige with a nice match to watch.

That’s what we’re doing. Meanwhile, over in the U.S. you’re, what, taking down the Christmas decorations and hitting the gym?

Sheesh! Live a little, willya!

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.

He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.

Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic

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