JACKSONVILLE, OR—Historic Jacksonville, Inc. will celebrate the Victorian Christmas Boxing Day tradition on Monday, December 26, when all Victorian Christmas tours of Jacksonville’s historic Beekman House will be $2 per person with a canned good donation for ACCESS. If visitors pay full price ($5 for adults, $3 for seniors or students), all tour entry fees over $2 will be donated to ACCESS.

Although Queen Victorian did not declare Boxing Day a national holiday until 1871, the tradition of giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions can be traced to the Middle Ages. “Boxing Day” may be a reference to the church alms boxes that collected donations to the poor. It became the custom to open them and distribute the monies on St. Stephen’s Day, December 26. From at least the 17th Century, it was also a day off for servants who would take their families a ‘Christmas Box’ of gifts, bonuses, and leftover food.

Between 11am and 3pm on the 26th, Victorian costumed docents will share the origins of Boxing Day and many popular Christmas traditions and observances along with stories of Beekman family holiday festivities in the late 1800s.

The Beekmans, Jacksonville’s wealthiest pioneer family, were the only ones to occupy this 1873 house, located at 470 E. California Street. Their home remains completely furnished with family artifacts. Its late 1800s Victorian Christmas decorations reflect the family’s heritage as well as the holiday customs of Scandinavia, England, France and eastern Europe brought to Jacksonville by other pioneer families.

“Cornelius Beekman’s family was of Dutch ancestry; his wife’s family was German,” points out Carolyn Kingsnorth, President of Historic Jacksonville, Inc., the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides tours, events and programs at the Beekman House throughout the year. “Their cultures contributed Santa Claus and Christmas trees to our current Christmas traditions. Other pioneers brought the holiday traditions of their homelands which have melded into how we celebrate Christmas today.”

Kingsnorth continues, “Our tours the day after Christmas revive another tradition from the Victorian era, that of Boxing Day. “Although Boxing Day’s origins are somewhat murky,” Kingsnorth explains, “it’s essentially a time of charity, giving money and gifts to the servants and the poor. That’s why we’re making ACCESS a beneficiary this weekend. The community is really generous before the holidays. Our Boxing Day tours will help supplement local food banks during some of the leaner winter months. This way, we’re not only celebrating the 12 days of Christmas, we’re extending the Christmas spirit into the new year!”

The C.C. Beekman House is located at 470 E. California Street in Jacksonville. Parking is available on site. For additional information, call 541-245-3650, or e-mail info@historicjacksonville.org.