Today is Boxing Day. It’s celebrated as a shopping holiday in most of the former British Commonwealth. In America, we pretty much ignore it, except if to remark on how alike but different we are from the English.
It has its roots in St. Stephen’s Day when it was traditional for Lords and Masters to give gifts to their servants and vassals. Christmas was for peers, St. Stephen’s for workers. This social role reversal had the useful effect tying the classes together. After all, it’s harder to plot against someone who’s just given you a gift.
In America, we’ve never really subscribed to the whole “class” thing. Our history is replete with Horatio Alger stories, where the destitute child picks himself up by his bootstraps to become a captain of industry. From Benjamin Franklin to Barack Obama, something in us resonates when an underdog rises from the ashes.
So we usually give our gifts on Christmas, implicitly declaring that we’re all social equals. This is part of the strength and genius of America, and why I remain confident that we will recover from our current troubles in an even more resilient form. The future is all before us.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
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