Today my Inquizitive Mind wondered why the day after Christmas is called Boxing Day. December 26th is a public holiday in the United Kingdom and many other Commonwealth countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. This day has left it’s mark on the modern day sporting world after it was hyped by the media. Commonwealth countries, especially in Britain, make sure to keep a major sporting event. This practice in the recent few years which has changed the original purpose of this day.
In spite of its peculiar name, Boxing Day, it has nothing to do with punches. Most people confuse it with the sport “Boxing”, but it been other sporting events held on that day. In fact, it has nothing to do with the empty gift boxes left over from Christmas or return of unwanted presents. These have been popular myths, but history doesn’t support this.
The term traces back to 1833 in the Oxford English Dictionary in one of it’s earliest editions. The term is of British origin and first used by Charles Dickens in his work “Pickwick Papers” in 1837, 4 years after its addition to Dictionary.
The exact origins of the holiday still remain unknown but there are two major theories both of which are connected to charity traditionally distributed the day after Christmas.
The first theory is that December 26 marked the day when the lords and aristocrats distributed “Christmas boxes” to their workers and servants, who were required to work on December 25, in recognition of their good service throughout the year. These ‘boxes’ usually contained small gifts, money and even leftovers from their Christmas. dinner. Basically, these so called boxes are a monicker for a Holiday bonus.
The second theory states that the Boxing Day name came from the alms boxes containing money, food, or similar items, that were placed in Church for the collection of monetary donations from the parishioners. The collections were then accumulated and distributed by the clergymen to the poor on December 26. This is also known as the “Feast of St.Stephen” after St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, and epitome for philanthropy. (Ireland celebrates December 26 as the St. Stephen’s Day.)
The practice of charity has faded over the years with the charity now being given in the weeks leading to Christmas rather than after it, but the Boxing Day moniker has stuck. This has become a popular holiday in Commonwealth countries for watching sports such Cricket and Football, shopping and partying.