Origin of Boxing Day

Most people celebrate Christmas without second thoughts because of the hype and merry-making surrounding the actual day- 25th December. However, not many people are aware that the day after is called Boxing Day and that this is a unique day which commemorates goodwill and kindness. The name of the celebration itself evokes curiosity as people wonder the reason behind such quirky naming. It is a general fact that the celebration is acknowledged and given public holiday status in a few Commonwealth countries including United Kingdom and Canada. Though it is primarily celebrated on 26th December, its observance vary from country to country, depending on the day it falls on (i.e. if it’s on Saturday, then it may be moved to the following Monday).

The origin of Boxing Day can be traced to Britain, where it is also known as St Stephen’s Day. It officially began in England in mid-nineteenth century during Queen Victoria’s ruling. Many people at that time (and even today) don’t quite understand the reason behind the celebration. During that time, it was to thank the community in general for their hard work and service over the many years. It was on that day that lower income residents like maids and drivers were blessed with gifts. It is essentially a day where the rich and well to-do shower gifts to those who are poor and in-need. Prior to Christmas or on Christmas Day, gift exchanges are generally between those of similar financial status or come from same class. It is called Boxing Day because traditionally, gifts (cash, foodstuff, clothing, etc) are placed in boxes and distributed to families according to their needs.

Since then, the practice of gift-giving to the poor has evolved with the emergence of different ideas. The giving has taken on a more practical approach because gifts and goods are not necessarily placed in boxes. In fact, giving of cash (donation to charitable institutions) and time (by accompanying those who are in need) have become a common affair. Though not many people are aware of the origin of Boxing Day, the spirit of charitable-giving lives on and that’s all that matters.

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