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Steam Donkeys Boxing Day Fundraiser

The Steam Donkeys—a Buffalo, NY-based music act and global think tank—will keep the embers of the Yule log glowing right into Friday (12/26) when they host a Boxing Day show at the Sportsmen’s Tavern at 9:30pm. Original think tank member and lead guitarist Charlie Quill will be there, direct from NYC. The event will also be a fundraiser for  Operation United, which helps local military families.

Over 4,600 veterans in Erie County live below the federal poverty line, and nearly 2,300 are unemployed in Buffalo alone. Of the 69,000 veterans residing in Erie County, many live with the day-to-day challenges of physical and mental health problems, all on top of raising families, retaining employment, maintaining housing, and working toward higher education. Numerous veterans are also returning home and need help re-acclimating to their families and communities.

The origin of the term “Boxing Day” is unclear. Some argue that its roots may date back to Good King Wenceslas, who was moved at the sight of a peasant and braved a winter storm on December 26—the Feast of St. Stephen—to bring the poor man wine and food. Others claim that Boxing Day was so-called for the donation boxes the Church of England would break open on the day after Christmas to distribute to the poor. The Boxing Day tradition was mainly carried on by various members of the UK Commonwealth, including Canada.

The equivalent of 20 "loonies."

The equivalent of 20 “loonies.”

Famous bespectacled Brit Elvis Costello even wrote a song titled “Boxing Day” in 1983, though it sheds little insight into the holiday’s meaning:

Although the origins of the holiday seem to have been lost in the collective consciousness, the message is as clear today as the message contained in a vintage English poster that was recently discovered rolled up under the driver’s seat of a rusted lorry in a breaker’s yard near Shropshire:

keep-calm-and-steam-donkeys

When England was terrorized by German bombing raids during WWII, Prime Minister Winston Churchill had the posters printed and hung in London subway stops, pubs, and other public places to remind Britons to keep a stiff upper lip. The posters had the opposite effect, causing many Englishmen to conclude that their leader had lost his mind.

“Everyone was confused by it,” said Sir Reginald Toff, who was a mere Shropshire lad when the posters first appeared in public. “Churchill was a charismatic leader and legendary orator, but he completely missed the mark when he urged the population to steam donkeys. Yes, food rationing was on, but we were not that hungry.” Toff would go on to invent English toffee—for which he received his knighthood.

Within a day of being hung, all of the posters were ordered removed. Still, millions had been printed, and the backs of the posters were reused as scrap note paper well into the 1960s. Below is an example:

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

“Whatever the true meaning of Boxing Day is, we intend to celebrate it with gusto on the day after Christmas,” says Steam Donkeys front man and spokesperson Buck Quigley. “It’s just not fair that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day get all this attention, while Boxing Day just kind of sits there like a red headed stepchild. That’s why we hope to build it into a huge celebration, and raise some money to help our military families in the process.”