What is Boxing Day?
Boxing Day is held every December 26th in many countries associated with the British empire. It started as a day to give gifts to the household staff of Britain’s upper classes but has morphed into a sort of shopping holiday of its own. In fact, its one of the most popular days to return Christmas gifts to the stores.
Boxing Day History
The day after Christmas, Boxing Day, is celebrated in the United Kingdom, Austria, New Zealand and Canada. But let’s clear up something first — Boxing Day is not about pummeling opponents. This unique holiday has its roots in gift-giving on one hand and classism on the other. Here’s what we know about Boxing Day’s origins.
The entire British class system worked to make Christmas Day a big deal for wealthy elites. They splurged on Christmas holiday dinners of geese, turkey and other fowl cooked by kitchen staff. Household servants worked hard making all the holiday preparations during the years well before the conveniences and technological advances of the Industrial Revolution. Messenger boys regularly ran errands and postmen delivered mail and packages year-round.
Boxing Day, on December 26, gave the wealthy a chance to repay their servants and tradespeople with paid time off and small gift boxes filled with trinkets or coins as a show of appreciation for their service during the holidays and throughout the year. Servants and tradespeople also prepared gift boxes for their own families, too.
Some historians attribute Boxing Day to the small boxes of alms placed near the church doors requesting donations to help the poor during Advent. On the day after Christmas, members of the church clergy would distribute the donations to needy citizens throughout the community. December 26 was chosen for these charitable acts because the day was dedicated to St. Stephen, a patron saint known for good works and his status as the first Christian martyr.
Ironically, during modern times, Boxing Day is synonymous with holiday shopping, good times, and sports. Rather than boxing, soccer and cricket matches are the sports of choice that bring everyone together for more holiday fun.