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Boxing Day Celebrated in Many Parts of the World

Boxing Day is a public holiday in many parts of the world.

Boxing Day: December 26, 27, or 28

Boxing Day is a public holiday in many parts of the world.

Boxing Day is usually celebrated on December 26 in most countries like Britain, Ireland, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand where the population is predominantly Christian. However, sometimes the day is celebrated on December 27 or 28, specifically when the holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday. Boxing Day is also sometimes known as St. Stephen’s Day to commemorate the sacrifice of Saint Stephen, a Christian martyr, for the cause of Christianity.

The main essence of the day is to share one’s fortunes with other needy people. The name is derived from the fact that on the day after Christmas, the boxes in the house of the Christians are filled with gifts and articles that they have in excess. The holiday is a means to give some of that excess to the poor and the needy.

History of Boxing Day

The origin of Boxing Day is a hot topic of debate for the folklorists who believe in various causes. Although there is general agreement that the holiday is British in origin and involves giving gifts to the less fortunate, there can never be absolute proof or evidence for the origin of the day. Some of the following are the widely believed origins of the day:

Centuries before this day, the ordinary merchants and trades people would give presents to their servants wrapped up in boxes as a token of gratitude for their service. This was usually done on the day after Christmas. Christmas was a day of gathering and celebration for family members. In the olden days when there were large manors and extended families, Christmas was the time to share presents. The presents were given out by the head of the family based upon relation and involvement in the family.

The day after Christmas was when the servants and the people working for the manor would get their bonuses or stipends for the upcoming year. These gifts and presents were usually wrapped up in boxes and given. There was a time when the apprentices and the servants would carry boxes to their master’s home on Christmas day in hope of getting extra money or rewards for the work that they had done for that year. This theory implies that the boxes handed out by the employers to their employees were actually not presents but Christmas bonuses in today’s perspective.

There is another theory that Boxing Day originated when the donations collected by the clergy of the church, in view of the upcoming festival, would be distributed to the needy on the day after Christmas. The donations would be collected in a huge black box that would be kept outside the church and then re-distributed from the box, thus giving the idea of Boxing Day.
Another version has it that voyagers would keep a box in their ship which would contain money that they would collect during a ceremony known as Christ-mass, originating from a superstitious belief of invoking the protection of a saint to guard the vessel against the wraths of nature. The poor were most often concerned about the safety of the vessel since most of them have a family member working in the ship. The family members would beg for money to be put inside the box to protect their ship-working family. After the safe return from the voyage, the amount would be divided and given back to the needy.

Boxing Day Traditions, Customs and Activities

Aside from getting together with friends and family or donating time and gifts to the poor, Boxing Day has become more of a retail holiday in recent years. Huge Boxing Day sales in many countries have become popular with retailers trying to attract extra income before the end of the year. Additionally, sports like soccer, rugby, and ice hockey are practiced on this day with many championships beginning or being held on Boxing Day.

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