Boxing Day was believed to have originally begun in the mid 1800s by Queen Victoria in England and takes place on December 26th each year. It spread to other countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, and then onto other Christian countries as well. Some traditions date back to the Middle Ages, so the exact origin of the holiday that is celebrated in modern times is not known.
3. Why is the holiday called Boxing Day?
There is no definitive answer as to why Boxing Day is named as such. Many stores all include a box of some sort:
There used to be a tradition of employees giving gifts to employees and servants the day after Christmas. This gift was typically a small amount of money or food and was wrapped in a small box. Although the tradition has somewhat tapered off at most companies, service people such as mail delivery persons and newspaper delivery persons still often receive a small gift for the holiday.
Dating further back, lords of manors would often distribute small amounts of food or useful supplies to be used in the coming year, such as agricultural tools, seeds and other implements. While the goods were really only used to benefit the lord and lady of the manor, it was the only gift the peasants received during the year from their masters, and they were grateful for the thought.
Often times in the 18th and 19th centuries, churches would make a point to take all their collections from the boxes of money collected during the Christmas Eve and Day celebrations and distribute them to parishioners in need. Today, this tradition has evolved into the giving tree that is set up at many Christian places of worship during the season. Members take a card designating them a family, and the card lists the items that the family needs for the upcoming year.
4. Are there other names for Boxing Day?
St. Stephen’s Day
Day of Goodwill
5. Where is Boxing Day celebrated?
6. What is a symbol of Boxing Day?
Although there is no official symbol for Boxing Day, the image of a hunter with a hunting dog and the fox prey is somewhat symbolic of the holiday. Older traditions on the holiday included wealthy landowners spending the day hunting fox, which is no longer legal. However, many who celebrate the holidayrecognize it as a symbol for the day, much like we recognize carolers as being a symbol for the holiday season, even though almost no one carols from door to door any longer.
7. Boxing Day is on the same day as St. Stephen’s Day. What is this holiday?
St. Stephens Day is celebrated each year on December 26th. It celebrated St. Stephen, who was the first Christian martyr, stoned to death after Christ was crucified. The day is an official public holiday is primarily celebrated in Austria, Croatia, Catalonia, Germany, Ireland, Montenegro Denmark, Italy, Romania and Serbia.
8. What is the song Good King Wenceslas about?
The song Good King Wenceslas tells the tale of Saint Wenceslas I, a Duke of Bohemia in the 10th century that fought the frigid temperatures to visit the home of the poor on St. Stephen’s Day to distribute the collections gathered at churches during the Christmas holiday.
Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath’ring winter fuel
“Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know’st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?”
“Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes’ fountain.”
“Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither.”
Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind’s wild lament
And the bitter weather
“Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer.”
“Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter’s rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly.”
In his master’s steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing
9. How to celebrate Boxing Day?
Boxing Day is celebrated differently depending on the country of celebration. Some main themes transcend all locations. These include, most recently, the proliferation of sales throughout retail outlets. Similar to Black Friday in the United States, retailers invest in enormous pricing promotions to bring shoppers out to stores during a notoriously slow after-Christmas lull.
Additionally, hunting used to be a particularly popular pastime on the holiday. Family would spend the day together hunting small game such as fox, rabbit, deer and fowl. Other groups of people make it a point to attend sporting events on Boxing Day. Football games, horse racing and boat racing are particularly popular in England. Boxing Day hosts the annual English Channel swim by the Brighton Swimming Club, similar to polar bear clubs around the world.
Traditionally, Boxing Day was revered as a day on which to reflect upon those service men and women, as well as public servants such as teachers, postal workers and employees (for business owners). Others donate money, gifts and necessary items to donation centers, soup kitchens and homeless people on Boxing Day.
In general, families enjoy spending the day together, relishing and relaxing in after-Christmas food, drink and gifts.