Saturday, December 26, 2009

December 26

A great diversion on the day after Christmas is arguing with family and friends the etymology of "Boxing Day." According to Wallbank's Cavalcade of Saints's Days:

The origins of "Boxing Day" is ("...is..." because the singular "origins" is one of those funny words that looks like a plural because it has an "s" -- and not one of those plurals that some authors create by using "'s" -- which is becoming so vogue nowadays. Are becoming. Whatever...) easily found in this verse of a popular song, written by Saint Steven before he was shot with arrows. It has been said that Saint Steven's choice of "folk music" as an avocation led to his painful martyrdom. Or is that Buffy Sainte-Marie? Seen here stringing up one of her weapons with our ubiquitous pal Pete Seeger:

or, actually, here, in this traditional Wren Boys tune. If you don't know The Wren Boys, you are very lucky. These are the urchins who go around killing birds in your backyard and offering to dispose of the carcass -- for a fee! To curtail this sly extortion, folk songs were written that made them seem like, well, simple begging children who are either dim or cheeky, obsessively repeat themselves compulsively, and apparently call everyone "Mrs. Clancy":

I have a little box under me arm,
Under me arm
Under me arm.
I have a little box under me arm,
A penny or tuppence would do it no harm.
Mrs. Clancy's a very good woman,
A very good woman,
A very good woman,
Mrs.Clancy's a very good woman,
She give us a penny to bury the wren.

Do you see what they did there? And how that explains "Boxing Day" ? They patronize you, promise you something in vague terms, do a little song & dance, demand money for something you cannot see them do. They put your money in that box under their arm.
Well, we'll have none of that in this parish!
And with that, we close all of the little doors and pack the Advent Calendar back into its box. Thanks for playing along.

2 comments:

karie said...

Fantastic closure to an enjoyable and educational Advent calendar!

Anonymous said...

Is there a resurrection of this bird after 3 days? If not, no tuppence for you.