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5 Things You Need to Know Today: Boxing Day

Boxing day has nothing to do with fighting, the Benton is open as are town offices.

1. The day following Christmas is known as Boxing Day, traditionally when the "upstairs" residents would give gifts to those "in service" – maids, cooks, butlers – and the needy. Since they worked on Christmas Day, servants were allowed to visit their families on the following day at which time each employee was given a box to take home containing gift, their holiday bonus and sometimes leftover food. Starting in England in the Middle Ages, it remains popular there and in Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and parts of Canada, although the day has transformed into a big post-Christmas sales day much like "Black Friday" in the US and a day filled with soccer matches. While never catching on in most parts of our country, New England was one area that Boxing Day was followed in places like Beacon Hill and the Back Bay of Boston until the 1920s. And the day was most likely observed in Belmont where many households – even those considered middle class today – employed either a cook or a housemaid.

2. Unlike colleges and universities, town business does not take the week off between Christmas and New Year's: all town offices are open today so it's a good time to come in and "get straight" on any stray parking tickets.

3. Quiet and unique, the Benton Library – Belmont's volunteer run independent public library – is open regular hours during the school break, today from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

4. Duplicate Bridge Club meets from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Beech Street Center at 266 Beech St. Every Wednesday the club holds American Contact Bridge League-sanctioned games. All are welcome to play. Cost is $5. Phone: 339-223-6484 for more information.

5. On this day in 1919, the Curse began: Boston Red Sox superstar Babe Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees by owner Harry Frazee.

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