Boxing Day

The day after Christmas is traditionally the day for employers to give a gift, a “Christmas box”, to their employees. The holiday is a primarily British holiday and is celebrated across the world in current and past British held commonwealths.

Boxing day was renamed Day of Goodwill in 1994 in South Africa. The day also is known by Catholics as St. Stephen’s Day. In Ireland, Boxing Day is celebrated along with the Day of the Wren. December 26 is considered Second Christmas in Germany, Poland, Netherlands and Scandinavia. 

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Boxing Day has been an official holiday in England, Wales, Ireland and Canada since 1871.

There are wide and varying answers regarding the origins of Boxing Day. Some point to the song of “Good King Wenceslas” as the origin of spirit, if not the day itself. According to the song, the 10th century duke looked out up on his land on St. Stephen’s Day (which is celebrated on December 26) and observes a poor peasant. He orders food, wine and wood for fuel to be taken to the peasant and calls for all Christian men to bless the poor in the same way.

In the Church of England, it was traditional during Advent for churches to display a donation box. After Christmas the contents of the box were distributed among the poor.

Among the aristocrats, it was traditional to give boxed gifts to their servants and employees.

Most of the events on modern Boxing Day have little to do with the charity in the stories mentioned. Popular festivities include eating leftovers, soccer games, visiting and drinking.

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