History of Boxing Day: What’s it all about?

Kaiya Freelon

For many, Boxing Day is just another event we see on the calendar. Although it’s not a major holiday celebrated in America, it’s one that’s been celebrated around the world for quite some time.

So how did it all start? Well Boxing Day, also known as St. Stephen’s Day after the Christian martyr known for his charitable acts, originated in England during the 1800s. Around this time, Britain was characterized as the “most powerful empire in the world.” Thus, the holiday spread across the world and continues to be celebrated today. It was tradition for the wealthy to box and give gifts, money and more, then hand them out to servants, tradesmen, and those who were poor the day after Christmas. It was also common for servants of wealthy families to work on Christmas Day, so this was usually the day they would celebrate. Queen Victoria would be the one to eventually name the holiday, Boxing Day.

But how is the holiday celebrated now? Today, citizens celebrate Boxing Day in multiple countries including Great Britain, New Zealand, Canada, Australia and more. Although giving back is still the main focus of the holiday, in these countries people celebrate the holiday in different ways. In Canada, Boxing Day is another Black Friday. Canadians spend the day shopping and watching sports, usually hockey. In New Zealand, many people take time to relax and spend time at the beach, since it’s Summer when the holiday rolls around. In the UK, the holiday is a day for shopping rather than a day or giving gifts. This is also one of the biggest days for Premier League games, seeing as the league and the holiday seem to be intertwined with one another.

After seeing the way various countries celebrate, we notice how far they’ve gone from original traditions. The holiday is more of a day of relaxing and taking time away from work. Although it began as a day specifically to give back, it’s common during this time of the year for people to give back anyway.

Hearing all the celebration of the holiday across the world, one may wonder why it’s not celebrated in the United States. The reason for that is simple; Boxing Day wasn’t adopted by the “American government.” Since Christmas is one of the biggest holidays celebrated here with the New Year being right around the corner, we tend to put all of our attention and energy into these holidays instead. Although the holiday isn’t specifically celebrated in America, the origin of Boxing Day falls in line with the giving spirit.