Friday, 26 December 2014

Second Christmas Day

Today go Dutch again flocking around the shopping malls and enjoy the British from a day full of sports, because it is Second Christmas Day or Boxing Day.
But why do we Europeans actually an extra day after Christmas, a tradition that for example doesn’t really exist in the America? In short, why do we actually celebrate Second Christmas Day?

Even before the emergence of Christianity the pagan Germanic celebrated the “Yule”, also known as the “Midwinter Festival”. In total, the festivities lasted twelve days, but the climax was reached on the shortest day of the year, December 21st. After this date, the days were getting longer and the amount of sunlight became more every day again, and thus celebrated the Germans during the “Yule” that the worst of winter had passed.

Saint Stefanus


With the rise of Christianity in the first centuries after Christ, many pagan traditions were converted to Catholic holidays. Like “Yule”, which was included in the so-called "Christmas season", a period of twelve days between December 25 and January 6, each devoted to at least one Catholic priest. Boxing Day came to this classification to be dedicated to St. Stefanus, the first martyr of Christianity.

Council of Mainz


However, at the Council of Mainz in 813 it was decided to extend the Christmas celebration itself. Henceforth, the Christmas party lasted four days. In all these days it was furthermore forbidden to work, because that would bring bad luck. The four Christmas needed, and got, each its own focus. So the Fourth Day was a Children’s Day and Second Christmas Day was completely dominated by the animals. Farmers allowed their horses galloping through the village to "guarantee" they would not be sick for the rest of the year.

Boxing Day


During the Middle Ages arose in Britain yet another tradition on Second Christmas Day: Boxing Day. This name could have been derived from the box with gifts that many nobles gave their servants on that day. These servants had to work on Christmas Day, but in return they were often the day after Christmas free from their masters. Good employees are also given as a “thank you box” with all kinds of gifts and food leftovers to take home.

Second Christmas Day


In recent centuries, the celebration of Christmas, however, was again gradually curtailed. Thus the tradition of Fourth Day soon lost. In 1773 the Dutch government decided to abolish The Third Christmas Day. Even Second Christmas Day appeared to be in danger, but the 18th century initiatives led to nothing. Indeed, in 1964 both Christmas days have been declared official Dutch holidays.

The religious character of Second Christmas Day however, is lost. Meanwhile, most Dutch people spend their extra day because usually by the shopping malls or at the in-laws. A similar development took also place in Britain, where Boxing Day today primarily known as an important day in football and rugby matches.


10 comments:

  1. I love the very interesting facts you come up with Han...thank you so much for sharing.

    Hugs and Blessings...
    Cat

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really started with the question why Americans have only one Christmas Day, and rather a Christmas season..

      Smile to you Cat,

      Han

      Delete
  2. Hmmm, so it is Therefore, Christmas
    has been called Jul always here in Sweden .
    Like Vikingd called it.

    Take care,
    Mona Lisa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, like the Vikings did call it Jul, after Yule.

      Neat, huh?
      Smile,
      Han

      Delete
  3. thanks for the explanation of Boxing Day. My youngest was asking why it was called that this morning and I didn't know. I like the 26th. It's calmer, less hectic, the kids stay in bed longer!
    Hope you have a great day.
    DF

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the second day is often more relaxed, even the formal clothing is more relaxed....

      Glad to have helped your youngest,
      Smile,
      Han

      Delete
  4. Nica explanation, Han. I always found it difficult to explain it to my non Dutch friends.

    Have a nice 'Tweede Kerstdag'.

    appy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the Americans don't understand our second Christmas Day. But I don't mind for I do not understand Halloween.

      Smile,
      Han

      Delete
  5. I love learning about the different traditions. Hope your hoidays were wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, we had very quiet but nice day Leigh, I hope you have had wonderful days as well.

      In a world full of questions, Leigh, there is always something to discover. I look like a child that is asking all day: why is this, why is that? Why do we have a second Christmas day?

      Smile,
      Han

      Delete

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