What On Earth Is Boxing Day?

I assume you have heard about "Boxing Day". If not, then head to the Wikipedia link at the bottom of this post. If you have heard then I guess you also know that traditionally the day after Christmas, 26th December is celebrated as Boxing Day. However, do you know why it is known so and when it all started? In case you do know, then kindly enlighten us on the history and origin of Boxing Day, in the comments section.

I was intrigued by the question emailed to us by one of our geeks, "What is Boxing Day?" So, I researched a bit and here is what I found -

  • There is still uncertainty around the origins of Boxing Day. However, one fact is certain - it falls on December 26th which is also St. Stephen's Day, a religious holiday in some countries.
  • Despite its name, Boxing Day has nothing to do with pugilistic competition. It is not related the sport and the day is not celebrated as a popular day to hold boxing matches.
  • It is also NOT a day for people to return unwanted Christmas presents.
  • Boxing Day is customarily celebrated in England, as well as in several Commonwealth colonies such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
  • Boxing Day originated about 800 years back in the middle ages. It has been a national holiday in England, Wales, Ireland and Canada since 1871.
  • When 26 December falls on a weekend, the celebration is moved to make sure workers still get a day off (except in Canada, where it remains 26th Dec)
  • Some historians say the holiday developed because servants were required to work on Christmas Day, but took the following day off. As servants prepared to leave to visit their families, their employers would present them with gift boxes.
  • Another theory is that the boxes placed in churches where parishioners deposited monetary donations for the poor were opened and the contents distributed among the poor on 26th of December.
  • One more school of thought is that the day after Christmas was also the traditional day on which the aristocracy distributed presents (boxes) to servants and employees — a sort of institutionalized Christmas-bonus party. The servants returned home, opened their boxes and had a second Christmas on what became known as Boxing Day.
  • The Irish still refer to the holiday as St. Stephen's Day, and they have their own tradition called hunting the wren, in which boys fasten a fake wren to a pole and parade it through town. Also known as Wren Day, the tradition supposedly dates to 1601, to the Battle of Kinsale, in which the Irish tried to sneak up on the English invaders but were betrayed by the song of an overly vocal wren — although this legend's veracity is also highly debated.
  • Cyber Boxing Day: In 2009, many retailers with both online and High Street stores launched their online sales on Christmas Eve and their High Street sales on Boxing Day. This was derived from the American holiday, the cyber Monday.
  • Just as Americans watch football on Thanksgiving, the Brits have Boxing Day soccer matches and horse races.


So, there you go ... let us know your thoughts.



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