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Leunig's cartoon provides origin of Boxing Day's name

What the? Boxing Day was named after George Rupert Box!? Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig is joking, of course. Leunig is well known for his sardonic sense of humor. In 1999, the artist/philosopher was declared a national living treasure in Australia. Leunigs name is recognized in the Chittenden County area too. But here, many people probably think hes a local restaurateur. Hes not, but Leunigs Bistro is named in his honor. Leunig himself was on hand for the opening celebration on Mothers Day, 1980. But back to Boxing Day. Although the holiday is celebrated in Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand, and Canada, the exact origin of its name is unclear. It is decidedly not a commemoration of some ancient pugilistic contest, a memorial to all those empty boxes strewn around the house, or a tribute marking the sad return of boxes containing unwanted gifts. According to the Snopes.com Urban Legend Reference Pages, Boxing Days roots reach back to Britain, where the day is also known as St. Stephens Day. Reduced to the simplest essence, says Snopes, [Boxing Days] origins are found in a long-ago practice of giving cash or durable goods to those of the lower classes. Gifts among equals were exchanged on or before Christmas Day, but beneficences to those less fortunate were bestowed the day after. Maybe one of the reasons Boxing Day is a non-holiday here is because of the inequitable nature of its origin. But with or without Boxing Day, tis the season to be jolly. And, whatever the occasion, Michael Leunigs namesake restaurant is a great place to make merry. In addition to regional food specials, Leunigs has free live jazz on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings from 7 to 10 p.m. Guitarist Paul Asbell and bassist Clyde Stats will play on Dec 26, bassist Ellen Powell and pianist Tom Cleary on Dec. 27. For more info, contact Leunigs Bistro & Caf_115 Church St, Burlington, 802-863-3759, www.LeunigsBistro.com . What about Daniel Robert Lid, inventor of the lid according to Leunig? Well, Lidding Day will be here in less than 6 months. That should allow people to bring closure to their Boxing Day festivities.

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