Boxing Day has been a traditional holiday following Christmas on December 26th. It is a popular holiday celebrated in the United Kingdom that originally was a day were the servants and tradesmen would receive gifts from their employees or bosses. These gifts were referred to as a ‘Christmas Box’. Now Boxing Day is recognized as a bank holiday but is still a favored holiday celebrated on December 26th.
Boxing Day dates back to the early 1830’s, some mentions of it are even seen in the 1600’s, its specific origin is unclear but the tradition of giving gifts to the servants or tradesmen was a common practice on the first weekday after Christmas. For many the Christmas Box was typically comprised of money or small gifts that were a way for employers to say thank you for a year of good service provided. This secular holiday is celebrated by many including Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Scotland and Great Britain. Many of these countries celebrate it with similar traditions and there are others that celebrate it slightly differently.
Boxing Day is also, in some traditions, associated with the Feast of Saint Stephen. It was not uncommon for churches to display metal boxes outside the church to receive spacial offerings for the Feast. The Feast of Saint Stephen for the Western Churches is celebrated on Boxing Day, December 26th. While the Eastern Churches Celebrate it on December 27th.
The Boxing Day holiday in the UK is a national bank holiday. If the day of the week is a Saturday or Sunday that Boxing Day falls on then the following Monday is declared a substitute bank holiday. For many Boxing Day is the equivalent of the American Black Friday. The day is known as a shopping holiday with a variety of sales and price reductions. In the UK it is one of the biggest shopping days for retailers and merchants. Stores tend to open as early as 5 am and offer the early bird shoppers special door buster deals to bring in crowds earlier. Because of the high quantity of shoppers that arrive at the stores many stores have put into specific practices to keep the day operating smoothly. Many stores will limit the number of patrons allowed into a store, others will supply tickets to popular items and others will inform shoppers of the inventory they have available on the bigger in demand items.
Boxing Day is also a day dedicated to sports for many countries. It is a common practice for rugby and football leagues to have matches played throughout the day. Many of the matches are played against local teams and range from the Premier League, Scottish Premiership and NIFL premiership. In other areas the focus is on cricket matches and offers the second most prestigious horse racing, The King George VI Chase.
Boxing Day has been a long tradition in the UK and many other areas as well. Though it began as a day for servants and workers to receive special thanks for the hard work they have been providing all year, today however, it has become more modernized with a focus on shopping and sports but still is a greatly favored holiday.