“Christmas box” redirects here. For the genus of shrubs, see Sarcococca. For other uses, see Boxing Day (disambiguation).
Boxing Day is a holiday celebrated the day after Christmas Day. It originated in the United Kingdom, and is celebrated in a number of countries that previously formed part of the British Empire. Boxing Day is on 26 December, although the attached bank holiday or public holiday may take place either on that day or two days later.
Traditional English holiday extends Christmas giving
Despite its name, Boxing Day, which is celebrated on December 26 in Great Britain, has nothing to do with pugilistic competition. Nor is it a day for people to return unwanted Christmas presents. While the exact origins of the holiday are unclear, it is likely that Boxing Day activated in England during the middle Ages.
Some historians say the holiday established because servants were required to work on Christmas Day, but took the following day off. As servants prepared to leave to official visit their families, their employers would present them with gift boxes.
Church Alms Boxes
Another theory is that the boxes located in churches where parishioners deposited coins for the poor were unlocked and the contents distributed on December 26, which is also the Feast of St. Stephen.
As time went by, Boxing Day gift giving delayed to include those who had rendered a service during the previous year. This tradition survives today as people give presents to tradesmen, mail carriers, doormen, porters, and others who have helped them.
The Day after Christmas
Boxing Day is December 26, the day after Christmas, and is celebrated in Great Britain and in most areas settled by the English (the U.S. is the major allowance), including Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Boxing Day is just one of the British bank holidays recognized since 1871 that are observed by banks, government offices, and the post office. The others include Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, Whit-Monday (the day after Pentecost), and the banking holiday on the last Monday in August.
St. Stephen’s Martyrdom
The Feast of St. Stephen also takes place on December 26. St. Stephen was one of the seven unique deacons of the Christian Church who were intended by the Apostles to care for widows and the poor. For the achievement of his preaching and his devotion to Christ, St. Stephen was stoned to death by a mob. As he died, he begged God not to punish his killers.