One of my favorite (adopted) holidays of the year is Boxing Day, which is celebrated in the UK the day after Christmas. To catch you up, Boxing Day is a secular holiday that dates way back to the Middle Ages. Much of Europe and Canada acknowledge it as a national holiday as well. In Ireland though, December 26 is called St Stephen’s Day or Feast of St Stephen, which is a religious holiday to commemorate the patron Saint himself. In all, its fair to say that its a day that pushes the limits of food and alcohol consumption …in the best way possible.
I’ve been to England well over a dozen times and spent at least half that many celebrating Boxing Day and I’ve never gotten a straight answer as to what we were actually celebrating. So here it is; according to wikipedia, its a holiday when tradesmen, those highly specialized, skilled service people such as carpenters, barbers, repairmen, bartenders and cobblers (yes, they still exist) would receive gifts, known as a “Christmas box”, from their bosses or employers. So considering how far the tradition dates back, I probably should have questioned my father-n-law when he told me that Boxing day is “a day to get all your rubbish out to the recycling”.
He always enjoys winding me up, so whether he actually knows the real answer or not is ok, because he certainly knows how to celebrate the day just the same. Properly …with beer, food, family and, best of all, soccer.
That’s right, Boxing Day is a HUGE day for soccer in England. There’s a full slate of games lined up in England.
In England, the kick off times are at noon, 3pm or 5pm (GMT) so there’s a legion of soccer fans who will enjoy a lazy morning (perhaps get their recycling done), hit the pub and, if they’re lucky, make their way to the stadium to watch their home team play. Historically, Boxing Day home games always play in front of near to sell out crowds. It’s simply a great day out with your mates or the family, regardless of where your team is in the table. It’s just that kind of day.
Expats won’t get to march to any stadium to watch soccer here on Boxing Day in the States of course, but I feel safe to speak for at least a few of them when I say, a Pub like Tigín is the next best thing. I have watched the Boxing Day games at Tigín many times and its always a lazy, carefree day and a festive good time.
Now, before you get your knickers in a twist, I’m not discounting how important this day is to the Irish at all. We are in fact an Irish Pub and St Stephen’s Day in Ireland is a very special, family day too. But if you walk into our Irish Pub on December 26, you will find a wonderful melting pot of expats from all over the world and Americans. The point here is that a good bunch of them will have come down specifically to watch the Boxing Day games.
So while players from the other European leagues take a break at Christmas time to rest, the leagues in England will take to the field. And, despite the ongoing debate, I selfishly hope this doesn’t change.
I used to jokingly state how grateful I was to know a few Brits so I had an excuse to celebrate Boxing Day. Nowadays, it’s clear by the amount of Europeans and Americans at our Irish Pub on December 26, soccer fans in the States have all the excuse they need.
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