Monday, December 26, 2011

SWAP

Do you think we can swap this four letter word for something else?

Today is Boxing Day in most parts of the British Commonwealth, which harkens back to... well... who knows.  My original inspiration for the idea for today's entry was a M*A*S*H episode, which shaped the bulk of my knowledge about the holiday as I was growing up - that of the quaint tradition where masters and servants in England would swap positions for the day.  But in doing research about the day, I found this tradition almost completely unmentioned - in fact, the only pages that talked about this tradition relate it to the same M*A*S*H episode!

While I invite you to do your own research into the confusing, and inconclusive, origins of the holiday and its name, it is clear that the underlying spirit is that of charity and good will.  (South Africa actually calls it "Goodwill day".)  And that while the Christmas season as a whole tries to focus our thoughts on giving unto others, this portion of the season is meant to focus specifically on giving to those who are more in need than ourselves.  In this sense, the tradition outlined by the tv episode is almost cruel - the "gift" to the British servants is that of pretending to be the lords?  Something is a little twisted there.

But even that tradition might be better than what the holiday has turned into.  Boxing Day sales are common... even in America which doesn't know them by that name.  In the US, this is traditionally the third busiest sale day in retail stores... and is also known for the high number of returns and exchanges.

Not exactly the "swap" I originally meant... but I guess it still fits.