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Box social is a term for a social event that was widely used in the early 1900s with varying definitions in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.
In the U.S. state of Vermont the tradition is that women decorate a cardboard box and fill it with a lunch or dinner for two. The men bid on the women's boxes anticipating a meal with the woman whose box it is. The bidding involves teasing, joking, and competition. The event frequently takes place in a town hall, school gymnasium, or church hall. The practice had fallen out of favor with young people in the 1970s–1990s, but has seen some resurgence in recent years. The rules today have become less rigid. Men now provide boxes as well, but the goal remains the same: raising money for a school, church, or civic project. A notable example from pop culture is the second act of Oklahoma!, which is set at one.
In Victorian Britain, middle-class young people had few acceptable ways to socialize and meet new people. A solution emerged of "box socials" held at various people's houses, organized by the parents, where youths could mix in a risk-free non-alcoholic environment. Within the university environment, a box social can be an annual social gathering for a sports club.
- Miller, Peter. Vermont People. Self-published: 1991. ISBN 0-9628064-0-4.
- Strickland, Ron. Vermonters: Oral Histories from Down Country to the Northeast Kingdom. New England Press: 1986. ISBN 978-0-87451-867-2.
- Van Susteren, Dirk, A Vermont Century: Photography and Essays from the Green Mountain State. Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus: 1999. ISBN 0-932754-99-6.