compass image and text: Culture Quest World Tour Ophelia Owl on the arm of Parsifal Peguin

HOLIDAYS OF THE UNITED KINGDOM


Boxing Day


December 26:

This holiday is celebrated in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. The traditional celebration of Boxing Day included giving money and other gifts to charitable institutions, needy individuals, and people in service jobs. The holiday may date from the Middle Ages (A.D. 400's--1500's), but the exact origin is unknown. It may have begun with the lords and ladies of England, who presented Christmas gifts in boxes to their servants on December 26, or it may have begun with priests, who opened the church's alms boxes on the day after Christmas and distributed the contents to the poor. Boxing Day's name probably comes from the old custom of giving boxes of gifts to people who provide public services, such as mail carriers. Today, Boxing day is still a day of gift giving. While government buildings and small businesses are closed, the malls are filled with people either exchanging gifts or buying reduced priced Christmas gifts, cards, and decorations. Throughout the holiday season, many organizations follow the original tradition of Boxing Day by donating their time, energy, and money to fill the Food Bank, provide gifts for children who live in poverty, or to help an individual family who is in great need.


Guy Fawkes Day


November 5:

People in England celebrate Guy Fawkes Day, also known as the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot. Shouts of "A penny for the Guy! A penny for the Guy!" can be heard from children up and down the streets in honor of Guy Fawkes. In 1605, he and other conspirators tried to blow up the British Parliament Building and King James I. It was intended to be the beginning of a great uprising of English Catholics, who were upset by the increased penal laws against the practice of their religion. After being apprehended they were convictd and beheaded in 1606. November 5th is now celebrated as the anniversary of the plot. Both children and adults enjoy this holiday in England with fireworks and bonfires, on which dummies of Guy Fawkes are burned.