One of my favorite (adopted) holidays of the year is Boxing Day, which is celebrated in the UK, among other places, 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, December 26 is called St Stephen’s Day or The Feast of St Stephen, and is a religious Holiday to commemorate the Patron Saint himself. In all, it’s 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, it’s a day when highly specialized, skilled tradesmen, 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-in-law when he told me that Boxing day is “just 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 the UK. Since most of the country is enjoying a Bank Holiday, there’s a full slate of games lined up. Check out the fixtures on our sports page. It’s stacked.
In English Premier League, 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 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, watching teh matches at a Pub like Fadó is the next best thing. I have watched the Boxing Day matches at Fadó 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 Americans and Expats from all over the world – and a good bunch of them will have come down specifically to watch the Boxing Day matches.
So while players from the other European leagues take a break at Christmas 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 Americans at our Irish Pub on December 26 that soccer fans in the States have all the excuses they need.
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