Ever wondered how Boxing Day got its name? Or why it takes place the day after Christmas? In today’s post, we’re looking at the history of the day.

While you’re busy tucking into Christmas day leftovers and indulging in Boxing Day television, we wanted to share the history of this day. So grab your turkey sandwich and chocolates, and get comfortable.

History & Significance

The history of Boxing Day is slightly murky as there are several theories. Of all the theories we’ve found, here are three of our favourite ones.

  • During the Victorian times, wealthy households would give their servants and tradesmen a “Christmas Box” that would be full of money and gifts. Because the day after Christmas was the only day in the year that these people would have off in a year (omg can you imagine??), they would take their Christmas Box home and share it with their family.
  • Churches used to place boxes outside their doors after Christmas to collect money for the poor. The money would then be distributed to those less fortunate who may not have had anything for Christmas.
  • Sailors used to carry a box filled with money on their ships for luck. If a voyage was successful, they would then give the box of money to the church that would then use it to help the poor and underprivileged.
Scout Costello

Traditions

Despite the uncertainty of its origins, there have been many traditions associated with Boxing Day.

In Ireland, Boxing Day is also known as St. Stephen’s Day (side note: St. Stephen was stoned to death for believing in Jesus). At one time a group of men called Wren Boys would dress up in costumes, stone birds (relating to the way St. Stephen was killed) and asking people for money. Today, Wren Boys no longer stone birds, but they still dress up and ask for money for charity.

Additionally, up until 2004 when it was banned, the upper class would participate in fox hunting on Boxing Day.

Today though, a new sport (and even more exciting pastime) has replaced previous traditions… SHOPPING. Shopping big sales, more specifically.

London Retro Catherine

Before Black Friday hit the UK, Boxing Day was the day to finally get your hands on that flat screen TV, those fancy designer clothes and more. Known as the biggest sale day of the year, it wasn’t uncommon to see images on the news of shoppers wrestling over an electrical appliance or a last size 6 pair of boots. Though bigger sales may have taken over, you can still count on Boxing Day for a bargain. These days, however, instead of heading out to the shops, people are shopping sales from the comfort of their sofas.

However you plan on spending your day, we hope you have a good one!

Top image: Erda Estremera