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What Is Boxing Day?

Updated on May 6, 2010

I have a friend from Australia who first introduced me to Boxing Day. Boxing Day occurs on December 26, the day after Christmas Day, every year. Employees get the holiday off. This public holiday is celebrated in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

Boxing Day occurs on the same date as St. Stephen's Day, also known as the Feast of St. Stephen. Many people confuse the two holidays. They believe that they are the same holiday with different names. This is not so.

St. Stephen is the first Christian saint. St. Stephen was one of the original leaders of the Christian church appointed by the disciples. He was the first person to be killed for practicing Christianity. St. Stephen was stoned to death. He is mentioned in Acts in the New Testament in the Bible.

The Feast of Stephen is mentioned in the classic Christmas carol, "Good King Wenceslas". In the Christmas carol, King Wenceslas delivers wine and meat to a poor peasant during the Feast of Stephen.

There are many incorrect beliefs about Boxing Day. Boxing Day has nothing to do with the physical sport by the same name. It's not related to returning unwanted Christmas gifts. Boxing Day isn't about clearing out the house from all the clutter caused by all the boxes from Christmas presents.

Boxing Day originated in England. Traditionally, Boxing Day was a day for the rich to hand out gifts or boxes filled with goods to the poor. Often, it was a day for employers to reward their employees. There are several theories as to how Boxing Day came about and no one really knows the true origins of Boxing Day.

Boxing Day has long been associated with sports, just not by the sport with the same name. A very old tradition for the rich was to go fox hunting on Boxing Day. Hunting with dogs has now been outlawed in both England and Wales. Today, many hugely popular sporting events occur on Boxing Day. Cricket matches, yacht races, horse races, football matches, and hockey tournaments all occur on Boxing Day.

Another popular activity during Boxing Day in towns located along the United Kingdom coasts is wading or swimming in the frigid winter waters. Participants traditionally wear formal clothing. Proceeds are usually collected and distributed to charities. The most famous Boxing Day Dips occur in Sunderland, England and Tenby in Wales.

Boxing Day is celebrated by many families as a relaxing day to get together. It is a way to extend the Christmas Day celebrations. There is lots of food, usually leftovers from the Christmas dinner. Ham is a traditional main dish for Boxing Day. Lots of board games are played. Many families watch the popular sports matches that are scheduled for Boxing Day. Boxing Day is celebrated in a fashion very similar to Thanksgiving Day in the United States.

Today, Boxing Day has become very similar to Black Friday in the United States. Like Black Friday, shoppers line up for hours before stores open on Boxing Day. Stores generally have clearance sales on Boxing Day to clear out inventory and Christmas merchandise before the end of the year.

Boxing Day is celebrated in many ways. It can include sports, family get-togethers, good food, helping the less fortunate, or spending the day shopping for great sales. Whichever way Boxing Day is celebrated, it is a holiday full of fun and perfect for adding memories to the Christmas season.

What is Boxing Day Comments

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    • profile image

      kkgbh 7 years ago

      i love it.

    • profile image

      8484 7 years ago

      it is so alsome

    • kaltopsyd profile image

      kaltopsyd 7 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

      Boxing Day is also celebrated on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. We spend the day going to our friends' and family's houses and eating lots of food. Good article. Very informative.

    • Angela Harris profile image

      Angela Harris 7 years ago from Around the USA

      Tracey, Thanks so much! One of my best friends is from Perth. Small world!

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      some1 8 years ago

      awesome lol

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      Tracey-Perth W.A. 8 years ago

      Thankyou sooooo much for the fascinatig explantion of Boxing Day, which I just googled for the first time in my life (at 42 years of age), for my 7 yo son who asked what the significance of it was. I too, was under the false impression that it was a public holiday, simply made to discard of christmas gift boxes LOL!!! I will always look and think of BOXING DAY in a wonderful new light, from this day on with thanks to you!!!P.S. GIDDAY FROM WA!!!!!

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      captin morgan 8 years ago

      it rocks balls

    • compu-smart profile image

      Compu-Smart 9 years ago from London UK

      Hi Angela!

      I searched for boxing day info and hear i am and much wiser!


    • Angela Harris profile image

      Angela Harris 10 years ago from Around the USA

      Bob Ewing, that sounds like a lot of nice memories.

    • Hot Rocks Review profile image

      Hot Rocks Review 10 years ago

      I always heard Boxing day was big in some countries but never really knew what it was about. Excellent information.

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 10 years ago from France

      Thanks for the info. I always wondered what was it about and no one could give me a proper answer!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 10 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      We use boxing day as a relaxer after the hustle and bustle of Christmas is over. The whole family extended with friends etc. gets together for a potluck leftover feast. Lots of fun.

      Great HUB

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Lissie profile image

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 10 years ago from New Zealand

      The whole Boxing Day shopping has just got crazy in the last few years - I avoid it like the plague - except last year our TV died on Christmas Eve so we got a good deal on Boxing Day! The other thing that blows me away are the hords of people in the supermarket - Imean the shop has only been closed for 24hr!

    • Bob Ewing profile image

      Bob Ewing 10 years ago from New Brunswick

      Boxing day has been a family tradition ever since I can rememebr, we used to gather for a large brucnh.