Monday, December 26, 2016

TRADITION

by Carol Browne

Photo by imagerymajestic
What is this thing we Brits call Boxing Day that takes place every year on December 26th? Does the stress of the festive season require a violent catharsis? Do people engage in fisticuffs in the street? Is there anarchy in the UK?

No, it’s a civilised affair dating back around 800 years, when the church alms boxes were opened and the money within was distributed to the poor. This tradition of being charitable is reflected in the Christmas Carol Good King Wenceslas, which concerns a Medieval king who takes food to a poor family on Boxing Day (also known as St Stephen’s Day. Traditionally, servants had a day off from tugging their forelocks, and were allowed to celebrate Christmas at home with their families and friends.

Photo by graur razvan ionut
In the not-too-distant past, tradesmen and merchants would receive a Christmas box from their customers. This was like a tip to thank them for their work throughout the year. This custom has largely died out but I recall when I was a child, my mother setting aside money or small gifts for Christmas boxes that would be given to people like the milkman and the postman. We had so many things delivered in those days and I seldom saw the people responsible so that, thanks to my child’s imagination, they became an assortment of surreal characters that still make me chuckle to this day: The Potato Man, the Paper Boy, the Fish Man, and the Coal Man, for example!

Although Boxing Day is a public holiday in the UK (and other countries with a connection to it, like Canada, New Zealand, and Australia) many people prefer the frenzy of the Boxing Day sales to chilling out with friends and family. It is also an important day for sport, especially horse racing and football. Many people go for a long walk, perhaps to burn off some of that food they have overindulged in. It was traditional for the upper classes to go fox-hunting too, but, thankfully, this barbaric practice has been outlawed now.

After the excesses of Christmas Day, why not try a simple vegetable broth for your Boxing Day lunch? A steaming mug of this with a chunk of crusty bread is both warming and nourishing and just the ticket on a chilly winter’s day. The following recipe is vegan but if you’re a meat-eater, you can add some of that leftover turkey if you still haven’t had your fill of it!

Vegetable Broth
Photo by KEKO64
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
4 large carrots, diced
1 swede (rutabaga), diced
1 large potato, cut into large chunks
1 leek, chopped
2 pints vegetable stock
vegetable oil or vegan margarine

Heat the oil or margarine in a large pan and add the chopped onion and minced garlic. Sweat them together until soft.

Add the carrots, leek, and rutabaga. Sweat these with the onion/garlic mix, ensuring they are mixed well.

Stir in the potatoes and vegetable stock. Bring to the boil. Turn the heat down as low as possible and place lid on pan. Simmer and stir occasionally until vegetables are tender.

How about a glimpse into the tough life of a strong woman while your soup is simmering?

In 2012 when young Polish immigrant Agnieszka visits fellow countrywoman Krystyna in a Peterborough care home for the first time, she thinks it a simple act of kindness. However, the meeting proves to be the beginning of a life-changing experience.

Krystyna’s stories about the past are not memories of the good old days but recollections of war-ravaged Europe: The Warsaw Ghetto, Pawiak Prison, Ravensbr├╝ck Concentration Camp, and a death march to freedom.

The losses and ordeals Krystyna suffered and what she had to do to survive are horrors Agnieszka must confront when she volunteers to be Krystyna’s biographer.

Will Agnieszka be able to keep her promise to tell her story, and, in this harrowing memoir of survival, what is the message for us today?

Buy Links
Dilliebooks - Amazon UK - Amazon US



Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol Browne was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol usually writes fiction and is a contracted author at Burning Willow Press. Being Krystyna, published by Dilliebooks on 11th November, 2016, is her first non-fiction book.

Stay connected with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

4 comments:

  1. It looks wonderful, Sloane. Many thanks for hosting me today xx

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    Replies
    1. Always happy to have you for a visit, Carol.:)

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  2. Happy Boxing Day, Carol! We Canadians celebrate this day too. Cheers and all the best in 2017!

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  3. Hope it's a great year for you too, Sharon :) xxx

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