East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Boxing Day

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According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the Boxing Day is

“the first week-day after Christmas-day, observed as a holiday on which post-men, errand-boys, and servants of various kinds expect to receive a Christmas-box”

We don’t do that in Italy, but back when I was a kid there was a thing called “Auguri dal Portalettere” (Best wishes from the Postman), and it worked like this: as it was not allowed to give tips to the postmen, they had small calendars printed, with Auguri dal Portalettere printed on, and would drop them in the mailboxes around Christmas, expecting a small tip “that was not truly a tip”. The official name of the thing was Calendario Postale, and the most recent one I’ve been able to find is from 1991. I don’t knbow if it’s stilld one somewhere. Here, it is not.

Now we get calendars from the supermarket – we got one a few days back – not in exchange for a tip, but as a bonus for buying our food there. It’s not the same thing.
Also, once our bank gave us gifts for Christmas – diaries, pens, books, all stamped with the bank’s logo. But that doesn’t happen anymore. All we get with the bank logo stamped on are the bills.

The bit about calendars got me thinking about my grandmother, that was a janitor in an apartment building in Turin for most of her life, and had a stack of those old calendars by the postman. And also about my father, who used to come home from the last visit to the bank, a few days before New Year, carrying a paper bag with the gifts, and wearing a tired look, and said, “this year, to, the accounts are settled.”

Truly, the December festivities bring about ghosts.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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