Why is it called Boxing Day and why do we have it?

22 December 2023, 17:30

Boxing Day gift
Boxing Day is a firm part of the festive fun every year. Picture: Alamy

It's the Christmas bank holiday we've all come to love but exactly where did it get it's name from? And who celebrates it?

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Boxing Day is the Christmas bank holiday where residents of the UK tend to relax in front of the TV eating all the left over festive food from the big day before.

A day made for family and friends, and even more Christmas fun, where exactly did Boxing Day get it's name from? And which countries celebrated it?

Falling on December 26th every year, it's also a day when most shops and services close, giving everyone the break they really need.

So here's everything you need to know about Boxing Day including why it has it's name, when it originated and how people now celebrate it.

December 26th calendar block on a desk
December 26th is celebrated in many countries across the world. Picture: Alamy

Why is it called Boxing Day and when did it start?

Many are likely to assume Boxing Day got it's name from the sport but it actually has nothing to do with it.

In fact, the name comes from Queen Victoria's reign when the wealthy would box up items they no longer wanted or needed and gifted them to the poor. Servants would also be given a day off and rewarded with a 'box of treats'.

The bank holiday can also refer to another 'box' tradition as ships would set sail with a box containing money as a sign of good luck. If their trip was successful, their box of money would go to a priest and opened on Christmas. It was then given to the poor.

Boxing Day sale sign in shop window
Boxing Day sales have become a huge part of the day's traditions. Picture: Alamy

Which countries celebrate Boxing Day?

As it originated from a British royal tradition, it's only countries with a UK connection that tend to celebrate December 26th as Boxing Day too. This includes Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and some parts of Europe.

Most other places in Europe, like Hungary, Poland, Netherlands and Germany celebrate the day as a second Christmas Day.

What Boxing Day traditions are there?

Typically, in 2023, there are no widely celebrated traditions on Boxing Day unless you and your friends and family have made them.

Popular events on this day, however, are things like Boxing Day sales, football and typically, eating all the Christmas leftovers!

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