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General News of Saturday, 26 December 2020

Source: GNA

Ghana observes Boxing Day holiday amid coronavirus

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Ghanaians have joined the rest of the world to mark “Boxing Day” which falls on December 26, of every year as part of the Christmas yuletide, amid the global pandemic of COVID-19.

The day, often observed as a holiday, provides an opportunity for people to organise social events such as parties, family reunions and sporting events.

It is a day relished most by revelers, especially the youth.

Historical accounts invariably reveal that “Boxing Day” got its name when Queen Victoria, of the United Kingdom, was on the throne in the 1800s.

It was an era where the rich used to ‘box’ up gifts to give to the poor, thus the etymology of theme: “Boxing Day.”

Traditionally, servants were given the day off to spend with their families as their Christmas Day.

Their masters also offered them special Christmas boxes in recognition of their services throughout the year.

They, in turn, went home and presented the boxes of gifts to their families.

The day since, has been widely observed globally as part of the yuletide to show love to family and friends and appreciate the hard work and dedication of employees and servants.

In Ireland and the Catalonia region of Spain, the day is celebrated as Saint Stephen's Day.

"In some European countries - such as Hungary, Germany, Poland, and the Netherlands - Boxing Day is celebrated as a second Christmas Day," according to a BBC report.

Some churches in Ghana mark the Day with charity events to reflect the ‘Giving Spirit’ behind the Christmas story.

Corporate entities also mark the day with distribution of presents, including hampers and boxes of gifts to needy and vulnerable individuals at children’s homes, hospitals, on streets and in less-privileged communities among others.

While some religious bodies understand the intent of the day, many others still wallow in a fallacy that it is a day set aside to engage in boxing (sporting) activities to have fun.

However, it is believed not to have anything to do with the ‘boxing ring’.

Though many shops are closed in observance of the statutory public holiday, commercial activities usually go on as “Boxing Day” sales often attract a lot of shoppers usually with its discounts or beautiful items.

However, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, could greatly affect boxing day sales and observation of the day especially in countries that are still observing restrictions following the respiratory disease, such as total or partial lockdown, ban on social gatherings, and ban on overcrowdings at shopping centres among others.

COVID-19 carried along financial challenges with its effects like collapsing of businesses, laying off of workers, high medical bills in the management of patients with underlying medical conditions and victims of COVID-19, and the need for families to cater for children of relatives they lost to COVID-19, among others.

All these and more could greatly affect the rate at which people would be willing to box presents or appreciation cards for others, even if they wished to.

The day, which has fallen on a Saturday in some countries, this year, which is a weekend would mean the next Monday would be observed as a public holiday and hard-working Ghanaians, who have worked tirelessly throughout the year, are no exception.

Such days are often well calculated by the citizens themselves such that, they do not need official public declarations by national leaders to observe the public holiday, to at least have a good rest or attend to private businesses.