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.

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17 beautiful Christmas flowers to buy this festive season

Christmas bouquet letterbox flowers

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The Ember

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White Winter Wonderland Bouquet

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The Collection Majestic Christmas Bouquet




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Winter Tulips




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Sparkling Snowflake Arrangement




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Christmas Candy




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Toasted Marshmallow Vase




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Festive Forest




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Velvet Red Amaryllis

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Christmas Bells




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Copper Sparkle Rose Bag




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