Christmas is over, but not all the holidays

By Patrick Fisher

I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas. I spent it visiting family and catching up with what everyone is doing. Of course, some of the best moments of the holiday were those just being around family that I haven’t seen for a month or more.

As in past years, Christmas Day began by celebrating the birth of Christ at church and then celebrating the day in the company of my family. We had a big meal and then opened presents. It’s always fun to see the reaction of people as they open gifts.

One of the best memories for this year actually came the day after Christmas. A group of us went sledding. It was the same hill that my parents would take me sledding on when I was a child and it was fun to see another generation of the family laughing and enjoying themselves while ripping down that hill.

While Christmas is over, there are still some holidays to be celebrated. This weekend is New Year’s Eve and Day, when many people observe the ending of the old year and the beginning of the new. While many today just see it as a time for parties, it used to have some more religious overtones. In villages in Europe, people would go around making noise near the end of the year to drive away old spirits to allow the New Year to begin safely.

Other holidays that were celebrated, or began earlier this week, were the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, celebrated by African-Americans. And this past Monday was also Boxing Day.

No, it has nothing to do with the actual sport. While most people are familiar with the first two, the last one is a holiday that isn’t really observed in the United States.

Boxing Day is celebrated in Canada, the United Kingdom, parts of Europe and other countries around the globe. There are many stories about its origin. One is that it was the day the lord of the castle gave his servants practical gifts, such as cloth to make clothes, or clothing, food, seeds to grow next year’s harvest or a few coins. These were presented in, you guessed it, boxes.

The modern observance of Boxing Day is that it’s a day off with some countries having sporting events. Others have sales of items with specials, so the U.S. at least has that in common.

So, why the interest in Boxing Day? After years of hearing about it I just became curious and wanted to find out something about it. That’s something we should all continue to do no matter how old we are. We should find out how or where traditions or holidays started, even those we may not celebrate. If we have a better understanding of each others holidays it will bring us closer to something we were told long ago and reminded of recently,

Goodwill toward men.

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