Christmas and Boxing Days: Finding joy, celebrating love


Christians celebrate Christmas as a remembrance of the birth of Jesus Christ. The birth brought joy to the Christian world after several years of prophesies. While Boxing Day is a day for giving out to the less privileged in the society. Can we still find joy in Nigeria’s society today where kidnappings and bombing have have shattered joy of several families?

In Nigeria  few years ago, series of attacks occurred during Christmas Day church services  on 25 December 2011. There were bomb blasts and shootings at churches in Madalla, Jos, Gadaka, and Damaturu. A total of 41 people were reported dead.

Since that time, security agencies with check point  and thorough search of fun seekers continue to make Christmas day awful.

For boxing day, December 26 there is little that can be said of remembering the less privileged by the government and corporate organisations.

The church in Rome began celebrating Christmas on December 25 in the 4th century during the reign of Constantine, the first Christian emperor, possibly to weaken pagan traditions.

The date of birth of Jesus Christ is not stated specifically in the gospels or in any other historical source, but most Bible scholars assume a year of birth between 6 and 4 BC.

The word Christmas was derived from Middle English Cristemasse, which in turn came from Old English Cristes-messe, literally meaning Christ’s Mass.

The first recorded Christmas celebration was in Rome on December 25, AD 336. In the 3rd century, the date of the nativity was the subject of great interest.

Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Messiah (Saviour) whose teachings form the basis of their religion. In the Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 11:26, his followers were first referred to as Christians because of the resemblance in their way of life and that of Jesus.

Christmas celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It is celebrated by the majority of Christians, the Jehovah Witnesses not included. The Roman Christian historian Sextus Julius Africanus dated Jesus’ conception to March 25, which after 9 months was delivered on December 25. Hence, the commemoration of His birth was fixed for December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among Christians.

Among the Western Christians and part of the Eastern churches, gift-giving, family and other social gatherings, decorations have become so symbolic of Christmas celebrations, a culture that has been imbibed by African Christians.

Through the year, they would take money from Christian worshippers in the form of a collection (offering) and hand it over at Christmas. Many of them stored the collection money in a box, which they opened on Christmas Day. The money was then handed out to the poor the next day – on Boxing Day (December 26).

Boxing Day got its name when Queen Victoria was on the throne in the 1800s and has nothing to do with the sport of boxing.

The name came from a time when the rich used to box up gifts to give to the poor.

Boxing Day was traditionally a day off for servants, a day when they received a special Christmas box from their masters.

The servants would also in turn go home on Boxing Day to give Christmas boxes to their families.

The day also has religious connections and is celebrated as Saint Stephen’s Day in Ireland and the Catalonia region of Spain.

In some European countries, such as Hungary, Germany, Poland, and the Netherlands, Boxing Day is celebrated as a second Christmas Day. This has also come to stay in Nigeria, where December 25 and 26 are declared Christmas and Boxing Days respectively.

The collection money in churches also played a part in the creation of Boxing Day. Through the year they would take money from worshippers in the form of collection/ offering and hand it out at Christmas.

Today, those boxes aren’t as popular. However some people still leave out extra money for people like paper boys and girls (the lowlies) in the weeks before Christmas, and call it a Christmas box.

For many people, Boxing Day actually only means one thing, leftovers. Many people prepare way too much food for Christmas Day  which ordinarily they can’t finish up. They end up distributing the leftovers to the less privileged the following day, which happens to be December 26.

In a deeper sense,  according to John 3:16, the Bible says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

The Christians believe God is so loving and kind, that He could  “share” (give) His Son with human race, just for the salvation of their souls. If God could go that length of releasing His Son, which is seen as the highest gift (sacrifice), it behoves man to replicate same gesture during the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

This is the bedrock of Christmas. It’s a time of showing love, sharing and giving, especially to those in need.

It’s this same spirit that is extended to the following day of Christmas, December 26, tagged Boxing Day.

In essence, Boxing Day cannot be separated from Christmas Day, as it’s the chosen day of perfecting exhibition of love, as laid down by God Himself, through caring and giving (sharing).

It is therefore necessary for the federal government to pertake in activities that will add joy and also use December 26 to distribute recovered stolen funds to less priviledged.

It should be a day for the Economics and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC) to visit less privileged homes and organise lectures to showcase projects put in place to care for the less privileged from recovered stolen funds.