Boxing Day is not today what it was originally intended to be. According to http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxing_Day:
Boxing Day is a holiday traditionally celebrated the day following Christmas Day, when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts, known as a "Christmas box", from their bosses or employers, in the United Kingdom, Barbados, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, South Africa, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and other former British colonies. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts, bonuses and sometimes leftover food.I personally like the idea of one day of relaxation after Christmas as I find it makes most sense and is practical.
In South Africa, Boxing Day was renamed Day of Goodwill in 1994. Due to the Roman Catholic Church's liturgical calendar, the day is known as St. Stephen's Day to Catholics, and in Italy, Finland, and Alsace and Moselle in France. It is also known as both St. Stephen's Day and the Day of the Wren or Wren's Day in Ireland. In some European countries, including notably Germany, Poland, the Netherlands and those in Scandinavia, 26 December is celebrated as the Second Christmas Day.
In the UK, Canada, and some states of Australia, Boxing Day is primarily known as a shopping holiday, much like Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) in the US. Boxing Day sales are common in Canada. It is a time where shops have sales, often with dramatic price reductions.
Many retailers open very early (typically 5 am or even earlier) and offer doorbuster deals and loss leaders to draw people to their stores. It is not uncommon for long queues to form early in the morning of 26 December, hours before the opening of shops holding the big sales, especially at big-box consumer electronics retailers. Many stores have a limited quantity of big draw or deeply discounted items. Because of the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, many choose to stay home and avoid the hectic shopping experience.
The local media often cover the event, mentioning how early the shoppers began queuing up, providing video of shoppers queuing and later leaving with their purchased items. Many retailers have implemented practices aimed at managing large numbers of shoppers. They may limit entrances, restrict the number of patrons in a store at a time, provide tickets to people at the head of the queue to guarantee them a hot ticket item or canvass queued-up shoppers to inform them of inventory limitations.
In recent years, retailers have expanded deals to "Boxing Week". While Boxing Day is 26 December, many retailers will run the sales for several days before or after 26 December, often up to New Year's Eve. Notably, in the recession of late 2008, a record number of retailers were holding early promotions due to a weak economy Canada. Boxing Day has often been compared with the American Super Saturday, the Saturday before Christmas.
In some areas of Canada, particularly in Atlantic Canada and parts of Northern Ontario, most retailers are prohibited from opening on Boxing Day, either by provincial law or municipal bylaw, or instead by informal agreement among major retailers to provide a day of relaxation following Christmas Day. In these areas, sales otherwise scheduled for 26 December are moved to the 27th.
Today is also Kwanzaa honouring those of African heritage in African-American culture . It was developed by Maulana Karenga in the mid 1960's as a week-long celebration that begins December 26th and ends January 1st with the giving of gifts and a feast.
Check this video for a brief history on Kwanzaa: http://cdn.history.com/sites/2/2013/11/kwanzaa-candles-candleholder-H.jpeg
According to http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwanzaa:
Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of the following principles, as follows:
Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems, and to solve them together.
Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
Kwanzaa symbols include a decorative mat (Mkeka) on which other symbols are placed: corn (Muhindi) and other crops, a candle holder kinara with seven candles (Mishumaa Saba), a communal cup for pouring libation (Kikombe cha Umoja), gifts (Zawadi), a poster of the seven principles, and a black, red, and green flag. The symbols were designed to convey the seven principles.
Families celebrating Kwanzaa decorate their households with objects of art, colorful African cloth such as kente, especially the wearing of kaftans by women, and fresh fruits that represent African idealism. It is customary to include children in Kwanzaa ceremonies and to give respect and gratitude to ancestors. Libations are shared, generally with a common chalice, Kikombe cha Umoja, passed around to all celebrants. Non-African Americans also celebrate Kwanzaa. The holiday greeting is "Joyous Kwanzaa".
A Kwanzaa ceremony may include drumming and musical selections, libations, a reading of the African Pledge and the Principles of Blackness, reflection on the Pan-African colors, a discussion of the African principle of the day or a chapter in African history, a candle-lighting ritual, artistic performance, and, finally, a feast (karamu). The greeting for each day of Kwanzaa is Habari Gani? which is Swahili for "What's the News?"
At first, observers of Kwanzaa avoided the mixing of the holiday or its symbols, values, and practice with other holidays, as doing so would violate the principle of kujichagulia (self-determination) and thus violate the integrity of the holiday, which is partially intended as a reclamation of important African values.
Today, many African American families celebrate Kwanzaa along with Christmas and New Year's. Frequently, both Christmas trees and kinaras, the traditional candle holder symbolic of African American roots, share space in Kwanzaa-celebrating households. For people who celebrate both holidays, Kwanzaa is an opportunity to incorporate elements of their particular ethnic heritage into holiday observances and celebrations of Christmas.
Maya Angelou, American author, poet, dancer, actress and singer...) was the narrator in The Black Candle, a documentary about Kwanzaa (http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_Candle).
What essence of Boxing Day and/or Kwanzaa do you celebrate? If not, do you celebrate any of the other days mentioned?