Boxing Day History
Boxing Day is a holiday that serves to remember the old practice of giving boxes on the day after Christmas. The practice of Boxing Day was first mentioned in English Member of Parliament Samuel Pepys’ diary entry from December 19th 1663, when he referred to “giving something to the boy' box against Christmas”. The day after Christmas was traditionally a time when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts from their employers, clients or masters. These Christmas boxes of food, money or presents served to thank the workers for the years of service. In the past, servants would be given the day off - having worked Christmas Day - to visit their families, taking with them the boxes from their masters.
Today, Boxing Day is usually associated with two things: shopping and eating Christmas dinner leftovers whilst watching TV. Stores generally offer large discounts and open very early. Boxing Day is a bank holiday in the UK and it is celebrated annually on December 26th. Some European countries, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands and Scandinavia celebrate the 26th of December as a Second Christmas Day but with much less shopping involved.
Boxing Day Facts & Quotes
- According to data firm Experian, in 2015, online shoppers spend a whopping 856 million British pounds on Boxing Day, up 22% from 2014 figures.
- 26 December is also St Stephen’s Day; commemorating the first Christian martyr Saint Stephen. According to the Acts of the Apostles Stephen was a deacon accused of blasphemy for his teachings. He was stoned to death and is now venerated as a saint in the Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox churches.
- In the UK, if the 26th of December falls on a Sunday, Boxing Day is moved to the 27th of December as it is a Bank Holiday and nobody works.
- Boxing Day is one of the 6 bank holidays in the UK. The others are Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter, Whit Monday and the August Bank Holiday.
Thence by coach to my shoemaker’s and paid all there, and gave something to the boys’ box against Christmas. - Diary of Samuel Pepys, entry Saturday 19 December, 1663
Boxing Day Top Events and Things to Do
- Take a traditional UK Boxing Day Dip. Although there are many of these throughout Europe, the largest is held by the Lions Club of Sunderland in England. IT is a fundraiser and requires participants to dress up and jump into the North Sea.
- If you can face it, brave the crowds and pick up a bargain at the shops. Most major retailers will be open, smaller shops might not be though. Electronics are where some of the biggest savings will be found.
- Watch some sport! There is top-tier football and rugby throughout the weekend and in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa cricket Test matches begin. The King George VI Chase, a horse race at Kempton Park also runs; it is known as the 2nd most prestigious race in the calendar.
- Continue the tradition of giving gifts and donate some essentials to a charity. Homeless shelters would appreciate things like toiletries and food donations that can then be distributed to those most in need.
- In the UK, it is tradition to take a walk in the crisp winter air and enjoy the outdoors. If you happen to be in the UK try the Snowdonia range (Wales), the Lake District (northern England), the Peak District (the English Midlands) or just round the local streets. You’ve probably eaten a lot over the last few days, so maybe go easy.