Why is December 26th called Boxing Day

Boxing Day is a holiday celebrated in the UK on the 26th of December, the day after Christmas Day – but why is it called Boxing Day?

Traditionally, Boxing Day was used by the rich in Victorian times to box up items they no longer needed to give to the poor.

It was also a day that servants would be given time off and thanked for their hard work with a 'special box' of treats. The servants would then head home and use the 26th to spend with their own families — and share the presents they had just received.

The origins of the day are steeped in history and tradition. As well as being a day to celebrate gifts to the poor, the national holiday also refers to a nautical tradition. Ships that were setting sail would have a sealed box containing money on board as a sign of good luck. If their voyage was a success, their box would be given to a priest, opened on Christmas and then given to the poor.

When was Boxing Day invented?

Many people believe that the tradition of Boxing Day began in churches in the Middle Ages, where parishioners would collect money for the poor. It was thought this was done to honour St Stephen, the first Christian martyr, whose feast day fell on 26th December.

Another tradition is that the churches in Victorian times would use it as a day to display a box outside their building to collect money for the poor.

Which countries celebrate Boxing Day?

It's mainly the countries with close connections to the UK that celebrate Boxing Day, such as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and some European countries, also.

In some countries, such as Hungary, Germany, Poland, and the Netherlands, Boxing Day is known and celebrated as a second Christmas Day.

Rachel Whiting

What do people do on Boxing Day?

Over the years, Boxing Day has become a holiday that is spent with friends and family. Many will use it as a day to eat leftovers (mainly turkey sandwiches), binge-watch Christmas films and generally continue the festivities.

It has also largely become synonymous with sports, such as horse racing and football. Before it was banned in 2004, fox hunting too was a popular Boxing Day pastime for the wealthy.

Many people use it as a day to get involved in charity fundraisers, such as swimming in ice-cold water, taking part in fun runs or volunteering with the local community.

Kenny WilliamsonGetty Images

How has Boxing Day changed over the years?

As well eating up Christmas leftovers, many of us use Boxing Day as a chance to peruse the sales — and snap up some great bargains. Dramatic sales all around the UK and online lure shoppers in, even before the stores have opened their doors. Some retailers reduce their prices on Christmas Eve, sometimes as early as 23rd December.

While it was once a day fuelled by kindness and blessing those less fortunate, it's become more commercialised over the years.

Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

SIGN UP


17 beautiful Christmas flowers to buy this festive season

Christmas bouquet letterbox flowers

Bloom & Wild, £39

SHOP NOW

With velvety red roses, unusual leucadendron, berries and festive foliage, this beautiful Christmas bouquet will put a huge smile on everyone's face.

The Ember

Bloom & Wild, £65

SHOP NOW

A beautiful combination of hot pink and deep red, this bouquet includes 38 stems alongside shimmering seasonal foliage.

White Winter Wonderland Bouquet

Waitrose & Partners, £35

SHOP NOW

This beautiful arrangement of white chrysanthemums, delicate gypsophila and foliage will tie in wonderfully with a winter wonderland scheme.

Celebration: Red Roses and Buttercup

FloraQueen, from £44.90

SHOP NOW

Containing a mix of red roses and white buttercups, beautiful skimmias and seasonal foliage, this bouquet will bring plenty of Christmas cheer.

The Collection Majestic Christmas Bouquet

marksandspencer.com

£60.00

SHOP NOW

Bursting with gorgeous, rich colour, the Blue Delphiniums and Purple Bloom Chrysanthemums really stand out in this arrangement. We're in love! 

Winter's Tale

serenataflowers.com

£29.99

SHOP NOW

We just love how pretty and elegant this bouquet is! Cherry red roses, snow white Alstroemeria and painted gold Eucalyptus, sprinkled with Salal leaves, make this a truly delightful arrangement.

The Christmas Poinsettia

SHOP NOW

What's Christmas without the poinsettia? The most festive of florals is a must at this time of the year.

Winter Tulips

arenaflowers.com

£35.99

SHOP NOW

These flowers look absolutely gorgeous. With snowy white tulips, glittery parvi eucalyptus and festive triple fir cones, it's an elegant choice for the festive season.

Festive Punch

appleyardflowers.com

£34.99

SHOP NOW

If you're looking for some bright, colourful statement flowers then look no further. Filled with fragrant oriental lilies, roses, silver foliage and seasonal berries, this is at the top of our list. 

The Collection Red Amaryllis

marksandspencer.com

£35.00

SHOP NOW

With 5 red Amaryllis' and 3 gold painted birch twigs, this bouquet is truly elegant and makes the ultimate statement.

Sparkling Snowflake Arrangement

interflora.co.uk

£37.00

SHOP NOW

Elegant and stylish, this beautiful arrangement of white chrysanthemum, white large headed roses and white freesia, with pistache, gold asparagus fern and dried lotus pods, really sets it apart from the rest. The flowers are also arranged in a grey ceramic standing planter, which we love!  

Christmas Candy

bunches.co.uk

£21.00

SHOP NOW

Sometimes, less is more. This simple Christmas display features long-stemmed Carnations in shades of red alongside Gypsophila and gold glitter Ruscus leaf.

Toasted Marshmallow Vase

interflora.co.uk

£34.00

SHOP NOW

This pet-friendly flower features white antirrhinum, cream large headed roses, white spray roses and peach germini with pine and birch. Vase included.

Festive Forest

appleyardflowers.com

£124.99

SHOP NOW

How many flowers can you see? This decadent festive luxury bouquet has it all, from Sorbet Avalanche Rose to Pinecones, Cinerea Eucalyptus, Cymbidium Orchid, and much more!

Velvet Red Amaryllis

Clare Floristclareflorist.co.uk

£34.99

SHOP NOW

Simple, chic and bursting with deep red, this Amaryllis bouquet is effortlessly stunning.

Christmas Bells

serenataflowers.com

£19.99

SHOP NOW

A stylish bouquet of 10 red tulips with festive gold Eucalyptus and Birch twig – these letterbox flowers do the job nicely.

Copper Sparkle Rose Bag

bunches.co.uk

£30.00

SHOP NOW

Looking for something a little different? This eye-catching bouquet features orange 'Pebble' Roses alongside copper foliage.