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Christmas Box Tradition

Traditionally, 26 December was the day to open the Christmas Box to share the contents with the poor. The Christmas box was a wooden or clay container where people placed gifts. Christmas Boxes were used in different ways:

To protect ships
During the Age of Exploration, when great sailing ships were setting off to discover new land, Christmas Boxes were used as a good luck device. It was a small container placed (by a priest and those who wanted to ensure the ship safety) on each ship while it was still in port. When the ship came home safely, the box was handed over to the priest who would keep the box sealed until Christmas when he would open it to share the contents with the poor.

To help the poor
An ‘Alms Box’ was placed in every church on Christmas Day, into which worshippers placed a gift for the poor of the parish. These boxes were always opened the day after Christmas, which is why that day became know as Boxing Day.

A present for the workers
Many poorly paid workers were required to work on Christmas Day and took the following day off to visit their families and, before doing so, their employers would present them with Christmas boxes.

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