So What Exactly Is Boxing Day?

The day-after-Christmas is one with little significance in the United States. Elsewhere — from the United Kingdom to Barbados to Australia — it is another holiday: Boxing Day.

On Dec. 26, the populations of many countries are probably mentally, emotionally, and physically decimated by the furious, frantic run-up to Christmas.

The hallowed day-after is one with little significance in the United States, spent cleaning the house, returning unwanted gifts, and seeing the last of the relatives off. Elsewhere — from the United Kingdom to Barbados to Australia — it is another holiday: Boxing Day.

__Why Is It Called Boxing Day? __


Oooohhhh, it’s about that kind of box (potentially). Photo: saavandsass / Instagram

People think they know why, but even Snopes doesn’t have a definite answer. Here are the three most cited histories:

The first theory is that the day after Christmas merchants gave boxes of food to tradespeople and servants as a kind of holiday tip.

Another theory holds that lords, once the Christmas partying had wrapped, handed their annual gatherings of serfs, boxes of practical goods necessary for the year before they all returned home, with the amount determined by worker status and family size.

The third theory is that employers would put coins in the boxes that servants would bring the day after Christmas as a special end-of-the-year gift (or acquaintances and servants would get to open small boxes of currency left by their employers).

Who Celebrates Boxing Day?


So, it’s like the Black Friday of Canada (and other places)? Photo: @awidjaja / Instagram

Australia, Barbados, Bermuda, Canada, Guyana, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Kenya, New Zealand, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, and other former British colonies known collectively as the Commonwealth all celebrate Boxing Day.

How Is Boxing Day Celebrated?


Run, little fox! The hound pup’s caught your scent! Photo: @smatt_matthews / Instagram

Back in the day, a popular Boxing Day activity was fox hunting. These days, the holiday is usually spent eating holiday leftovers while watching soccer matches and horse races.

In the larger countries, such as the United Kingdom, Canada, and (parts of) Australia, Boxing Day is a gigantic shopping holiday, akin to Black Friday.

Regardless, it must be nice having one holiday right after another. Good on them.