I love the ancient tradition wherein an employer would fill a box and gift it to his servants, to help make their Christmas bright; and also to show your appreciation for a year's work - kind of like the modern Christmas Bonus!
The idea originated, partially, because servants had to wait on their employers and their guests all day long on Christmas Day -- cleaning, cooking, serving, receiving guests, taking coats, stabling the horses, etc. etc. etc.! So the grateful employers would fill a box the following day full of all kinds of wonderful things such as left-over cakes, pies, meats and treats; to old clothes and household items that had been replaced by new items. The servants would then take these boxes home to their families and celebrate their Christmas on Boxing Day. That's only one variation of this very old tradition but it is a particularly nice and generous one. Other versions include people going door-to-door to the homes of rich people on Boxing Day, carrying with them their own box, in the hopes of receiving any bits and bobs that the abundant households might no longer need and were happy to pass on to the less fortunate. Or sometimes, the wealthy would make a day of it and gather as a group to go about to the homes of those in need, or to their servants, and drop the goodies off themselves ... remember Bob Cratchitt's turkey!
I received a nice big cardboard box this year from out-of-town relatives filled with lovely Christmas gifts. I was just about to recycle it when I decided that, while I don't have any servants (more's the pity), I'm going to fill the box with items around the house and take it to our local Salvation Army or hospital charity shop. And maybe I better leave out some wee offerings to the fairy folk; for my brownies and house elves, and also those industrious little garden gnomes who perform many important tasks around the Grove!
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2018 / edited 2020 & 2021
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