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. The day also is known by Catholics 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. Some businesses are closed as well. However, Boxing Day has become a popular day to 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.
Others are more adventurous and take part by wearing a fancy dress and jumping into the North Sea. There are other traditional Boxing Day Dips held throughout the world to 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 normal gratuity
Provide a special gift for employees
Save by shopping Boxing Day Sales
Use #BoxingDay to post on social media.
BOXING DAY HISTORY
Since 1871, Boxing Day has been an official holiday in England, Wales, Ireland, and Canada.
There are various explanations 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 (which is celebrated on December 26) 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, the contents of the box were distributed among the poor.
Among the aristocrats, it was traditional to give 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.