Day of Goodwill: The reason for the season

26th December 2020

UKZN Extended Learning

– by Nkosingiphile Ntshangase

The 26th of December is a South African national holiday that encourages the spirit of giving. The Day of Goodwill is observed on the day after Christmas, and it is also known as Boxing Day. This holiday was implemented after the South African government abolished the apartheid regime in 1994. Originally, Boxing Day was the British holiday of gifting boxes on the day after Christmas for the items that will be given away. After indulging on Christmas Day, we are given the chance to give back to our communities so we can spread love and foster compassion. Many families would have had leftover food, beverages, and previously loved belongings after the Christmas celebration. Unfortunately, this is not the case for a lot of South Africans. Therefore, this common tradition extends the essence of friendship and community to the less fortunate, so they can also partake in the festivities.

The purpose of the Day of Goodwill is to address a need or social issue in a community. It is a day for people to put aside the materialistic aspect of the festive season and help others, while in the company of their loved ones. Besides helping other members of society, people often take this opportunity to relax and have fun. However, we cannot neglect what constitutes the act of goodwill. In the fast-paced society that we live in, when we do get a chance to give back to our communities, it is often an afterthought. We often give away things we no longer need without much consideration of their relevance, often to fulfil that sense of guilt or feed an ego. The act of giving needs to be done with compassion and an awareness of the hardships people experience. This is done to address a specific need with a want to do something about it.

This day is important because creating goodwill in society makes people feel good and assists with building relationships and promoting compassion for a better society. The Day of Goodwill is not a quick fix to societal issues, but the acknowledgment of the holiday can re-ignite that sense of community in the hopes of leaving a lasting effect. By going the extra mile for the next person encourages empathy and understanding, nurturing a society with better values that invest in each other.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” – Anne Frank