Every year on December 26th, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and other Commonwealth countries celebrate Boxing Day. This annual custom began in the United Kingdom in the 19th century under Queen Victoria.
It’s not certain why the day after Christmas in these countries is called Boxing Day. Some say it’s because in Britain a Christmas present is called a Christmas box. On the day after Christmas, servants received a Christmas box from their master. Others say the holiday refers to using a box to collect money for the poor. These boxes were placed inside churches on Christmas Day and then opened the next day.
South Africa renamed the holiday to Day of Goodwill in 1994. Catholics know the day as St. Stephen’s Day. Ireland celebrates Boxing Day along with the Day of the Wren. Also, December 26th is considered Second Christmas in Germany, Poland, Netherlands, and Scandinavia.
HOW TO OBSERVE #BoxingDay
In countries observing the holiday, government buildings are closed. Many businesses close for the day, too. However, in many countries, Boxing Day has grown in popularity. Many people exchange gifts or buy merchandise at reduced prices. Because it’s a holiday, many stores close early on this day. For those who aren’t out shopping, they are spending the day with family and friends. It’s a great day to eat the leftovers from Christmas dinner.
More adventurous types take part by wearing a fancy dress and jumping into the North Sea. In other parts of the world, traditional Boxing Day Dips raise money for charity.
Participate in the holiday in several ways:
- Give to charity.
- Attend sporting events or watch on television.
- Leave a larger than average gratuity.
- Provide a special gift for employees.
- Save by shopping sales.
Use #BoxingDay to post on social media.
BOXING DAY HISTORY
Since 1871, England, Wales, Ireland, and Canada officially celebrate Boxing Day annually.
A variety of explanations arise regarding the holiday’s origins. Some people point to the song “Good King Wenceslas” as the source of spirit, if not the day itself. According to the song, the 10th-century Duke looked out on his land on St. Stephen’s Day on December 26th and observed a poor peasant. He ordered food, wine, and wood for fuel to be taken to the peasant and called for all Christian men to bless the poor in the same way.
In the Church of England, it was traditional during Advent for churches to display a donation box. After Christmas, churches distributed the box’s contents among the poor. Aristocrats also traditionally gave boxed gifts to their servants and employees.
Most of the events taking place during the modern Boxing Day have little to do with the charity in the stories mentioned. Popular festivities include eating leftovers, soccer games, visiting, and drinking.