After you have opened all the presents and eaten your fill, what do you do? Are you done with Christmas for another year? Not so quick! Tomorrow is Boxing Day. I always observe it by saying "Today is Boxing Day", but in England, December 26 has a long history. Here is a bit about Boxing Day customs from the British newspaper, The Telegraph:
According to some Boxing Day can be traced back to the Victorian era when churches often displayed a box into which their parishioners put donations.
Also in Britain, on the day after Christmas Day, servants of the wealthy were given time off to visit their families because their services were required for the Christmas Day celebrations of their employers.
They were therefore allowed the following day for their own observance of the holiday and each servant would be handed a box to take home, containing gifts, bonuses and sometimes leftover food.
It was also customary for tradespeople to collect 'Christmas boxes' of presents or money on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year.
December 26th is also the feast day of Saint Stephen, the patron saint of horses, which is why Boxing Day has come to be associated with horse racing and fox hunting.
Samuel Pepys mentions the practice in a diary entry from December 19th 1663: "Thence by coach to my shoemaker’s and paid all there, and gave something to the boys’ box against Christmas."
There are also Boxing Day sales, of course!
Then we have the twelve days of Christmas, ending on January 6 (Epiphany) when the three wise men turn up at the manger. Don't be in a hurry to take down your Christmas lights or they may not be able to find their way!
Things to do between now and January 6:
Before and after Christmas : activities and ideas for Advent and Epiphany /O'Neal, Debbie Trafton 249 ONE
The Penny Whistle Christmas party book : including Hanukkah, New Year's & Twelfth Night family parties /Brokaw, Meredith J 793.21 BRO
The Feast of Stephen:
Good King Wenceslas /Neale, J. M. J 782.28 NEA
The twelve days of Christmas and the three wise men:
The twelve days of Christmas /J 394 BRE
Federico and the Magi's gift: a Latin American Christmas story/Vidal, Beatriz E VID
Baboushka and the three kings./Robbins, Ruth J 394 ROB
The story of the Three Wise Kings /De Paola, Tomie E DEP
Were they wise men or kings? : the book of Christmas questions /Walsh, Joseph J. J 394.2 WAL
The after-Christmas tree /Tyler, Linda Wagner E TYL
Time on your hands? Get your egg nog and curl up with one of these books:
Night visions : searching the shadows of Advent and Christmas /Richardson, Jan L. 242.33 RIC
Dewey : the small-town library cat who touched the world /Myron, Vicki 636.8092 MYR
The gift of the Magi /Henry, O. F OHE
Home for Christmas : stories for young and old /F HOM
I'll be home for Christmas: the spirit of Christmas during World War II/Spain, Tom, ed 940.548 SPA
Memory of a large Christmas /Smith, Lillian Eugenia 394 SMI