The beginnings of the day, however, are steeped in tradition…
Why is Boxing Day called Boxing Day?
When is Boxing Day?
Boxing Day is a national holiday in both the UK and Ireland, which takes place the day after the Christmas celebrations on the 26th December.
Old age traditions
The traditional celebration of Boxing Day comprised giving money and other donations (such as gifts and hand outs) to charitable institutions, to those in service jobs and to people less well off.
This holiday is said to date back to the Middle Ages (A.D. 400’s–1500’s), but its precise origin is unknown.
The origins of Boxing Day
So why is Boxing Day called Boxing Day? Traditionally, this day was a day of rest for servants.
They were also usually presented with a Christmas box from their master – which is where some believe the name Boxing Day comes from. Servants used this day to celebrate their own festivities.
Other stories suggest the day is named after the box used to collect money for the poor, which was placed in Churches on Christmas evening, and then opened the next day – Boxing Day.
When setting sail, sailing ships housed a sealed box on board, which contained a fair bit of money and was said to bring good luck.
If the voyage was a success, the box was handed to a priest on their return, opened the day after Christmas, with the contents being presented to the poor.
When asked why Boxing Day is called Boxing Day, others say the tradition stems from Roman times, when money to pay for athletic games was amassed in boxes. These boxes were created out of earthenware, complete with slits in the top for coins, with several discovered among the ruins of Pompeii.
The Romans then brought this idea the UK, and clergy and monks used similar boxes to save money for the poor at Christmas time, with the contents being distributed the day after Christmas.
Boxing Day is a holiday celebrated after the festivities of Christmas, but why is Boxing Day called Boxing Day?
It was initiated in the United Kingdom, and is celebrated in a number of countries that once formed part of the British Empire. It’s also celebrated in a variety of European countries, including Poland, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and the Nordic nations – with many of these regions using it as an excuse to host a second Christmas.
Boxing Day Activities
Many larger families won’t get to see all of their clan on Christmas Day, which is when Boxing Day is often used as an additional Christmas.
Others will attend activities such as horse racing and football matches, with many sports fields holding special Boxing Day matches.
For others, this is a time to show their true eccentricity, through taking part in various silly activities, such as Boxing Day swims in the freezing cold English Channel. Charity events and fun runs are also popular on this day.
Fox Hunting on Boxing Day
Up until 2004, Boxing Day hunts were a customary part of this public holiday, however the ban on this sport put an end to the tradition.
Irrespective of this, hunters still gather, robed resplendently in red hunting coats, and ride to the sound of the hunting horn, following a series of artificial trails.
A New Boxing Day Sport
As well as the many football matches and swims, another ‘sport’ to arise in recent years is shopping.
This day is no longer a day of relaxation, as it now hosts one of the biggest sales of the year!
If you were lucky enough to receive money for Christmas, this is the time to spend it as you’re likely to get more for your money!
Boxing Day in Ireland
Boxing Day is known as ‘St. Stephen’s Day’ in Ireland, so-called after the Saint stoned to death for believing in Jesus.
Today, it’s celebrated in a similar way to that of the UK.
Food and Drink on Boxing Day
Boxing Day, being a public holiday, is an excuse to hit the town for a few tipples.
Those who choose to stay at home will often dine on baked ham, turkey sandwiches, Christmas cake and moreish mince pies drenched in brandy butter – not forgetting any treats they may have received as gifts the day before.