The Christmas Box

Come, let us, like our jovial fires of old,
With gambels and mince-pie, our Christmas hold.
from New-Hampshire Gazette newspaper, published 3 January 1766

In the 18th and 19th centuries the “Christmas Box” was an honorable custom used to reward both household servants, and merchants who provided excellent service, or perhaps to encourage them to do so into the future.  The custom possibly evolved from the Christian church's practice of collecting alms in a locked iron box for the poor and then distributing it  as “the dole of the Christmas box.”  So when you offer a holiday gift to your hairdresser or mailman, keep in mind that your action has a ancient European precedent.

In the latter part of the 19th century, the original metal or sealed clay boxes and containers were replaced with paper, and were probably the forerunners of our current day habit of wrapping gifts in colorful boxes. The 19th century Christmas Boxes, however, received contributions not only of coin, but of letters from friends and associates offering warm wishes, and playful poetry or verses. 

And so in the spirit of the Christmas Box, I offer glimpses of Christmases past.
–Great Posts of Christmas Past and Present–

I invite you, my readers, to add something to my Christmas box–a verse, warm wishes, whatever-you-please. 

Related Subjects:
Colonial Gambling (i.e. gambel)
Colonial Mince Pie
Boxing Day
Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, by Ebenezer Cobham Brewer, 1882

Drawing above from:  “The Christmas Box, an Annual Present to Young Persons,” edited by T. Crofton Croker, Esq., London: John Ebers and Co., Philadelphia, 1899

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