Boxing Day has nothing to do with the fighting sport of boxing, but rather is a day when gifts are given to people in the service industry like mail carriers, doormen, porters, and tradesmen.
When is Boxing Day celebrated?
The day after Christmas, December 26th
Who celebrates this day?
This day is a holiday in the United Kingdom and most other areas that were settled by the English except the United States. Other countries that celebrate the holiday include New Zealand, Australia, and Canada.
What do people do to celebrate?
The main thing people do to celebrate is to tip any service workers who have worked for them throughout the year such as postal workers, the paper boy, the milkman, and doormen.
The holiday is also a day to give to the poor. Some people gather gifts in Christmas boxes to give to poor children throughout the world.
In many countries Boxing Day has become a large shopping day. Just like Black Friday after Thanksgiving, Boxing Day is a day of big markdowns on products that stores were not able to sell for Christmas.
Other ways people celebrate include traditional hunts, family reunions, and sporting events such as football.
History of Boxing Day
No one is quite sure where Boxing Day got its start. Here are a few of the possible origins of the day:
One possible origin is from metal boxes that were placed outside of churches during the Middle Ages. These boxes were for offerings to give to the poor on the Feast of St. Stephen, which is also celebrated on the 26th.
Another possible origin is from when wealthy English Lords would give their servants the day after Christmas off as a holiday. They would also give them a box with leftover food or even a present on this day.
The day is likely a combination of these traditions and others. Either way, Boxing Day has been around for hundreds of years and is a national holiday in England and other countries.
Fun Facts About Boxing Day
It used to be considered unlucky to kill a wren bird on any day but Boxing Day. The hunting of wrens was a popular Boxing Day event in England many years ago.
The Feast of St. Stephen takes place on the 26th. St. Stephen was stoned to death for preaching about Jesus. As he was dying he prayed that God would forgive his murderers.
Premier League football in the United Kingdom has a full day of games on Boxing Day. Many people love to spend the day watching football (soccer). Other sporting events such as horseracing, hockey, and rugby are also popular on this day.
In Ireland the 26th is generally called St. Stephen's Day or the Day of the Wren.
A Christmas box was sometimes placed on ships during the Age of Exploration. The sailors would put money in the box for good luck, then the box would be given to a priest who would open it at Christmas and give the money to the poor.
In South Africa the holiday was renamed to the Day of Goodwill in 1994.