The Origins of Boxing Day

Boxing Day is a national bank holiday celebrated on the 26th December in the United Kingdom, and is predominately spent with family and friends, eating leftovers from Christmas Dinner. The food commonly consumed on Boxing Day consists of baked ham, mince pies, Christmas cake and other snacks and alcoholic tipples.

Finding the exact origin behind the name ‘Boxing’ Day is difficult; there are many valid answers. For example:

  • A ‘Christmas Box’ is another name for a Christmas gift
  • Boxing Day was traditionally a day off for servants, where they would receive a present from their master
  • A box to collect money for the poor would be placed in churches on Christmas Day and opened on Boxing Day

In the UK, many families opt to spend Boxing Day with loved ones who they did not see on Christmas Day. In more recent times, Boxing Day has become popular amongst sports, including horse racing and football. Boxing Day is also a popular day for British people to take part in activities, often for charity. These have previously included swimming in the English Channel, participating in fun-runs and other charity events.

One of the most widespread Boxing Day activities to take part in, particularly in recent years, is shopping. Many shopping centres and high street shops will open early until late on Boxing Day for the ‘Boxing Day Sales’. What was once a day spent relaxing with family is now the start of one of the biggest sales of the year. Whereas the sales used to begin in January, the desire to grab bargains as soon as possible has now meant most sales will begin straight after Christmas Day.

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