Christmas 2022: Why is it called Boxing Day?

After the stress of Christmas, Boxing Day is a welcome change of pace (Image: Getty)

As well as being a time for family, friends, parties and seeing a bit good TV, Christmas is also the time when we can all stop work for a few days and settle down for a well-deserved rest.

And in the UK, we get an extra chance to do it after the madness of Christmas Day itself thanks to Boxing Day – December 26.

The holiday is often associated with the start of sales, and people flood the shops trying to grab a bargain – but that particular tradition couldn’t be further removed from the day’s actual origins.

Retail therapy aside, why do we actually call the day after Christmas Day and do other countries celebrate it?

Why is it called Christmas Day?

Before you do your best Antony Joshua impression on an unsuspecting sibling or friend, no, Boxing Day has nothing to do with actual boxing.

It gets its name from the custom, back in the 19th century, of being a holiday where the rich used to wrap gifts to give to the less fortunate.

19th century Boxing Day illustration

Workers will usually receive ‘boxed’ gifts from their employers (Image: The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)

Traditionally, it was a day when people such as postmen, errand boys and servants received a special Christmas box from their employers – and when they were free to spend time with their families.

The churches have also traditionally played a role in the day, collecting money from churchgoers during the year and giving it to those in need.

Do other countries celebrate Boxing Day?

While many countries enjoy an extra day off after Christmas Day, not all of them celebrate Boxing Day.

Boxing Day is almost as special as Christmas for many in the UK – a time to relax after the big stress of Christmas Day.

Sale shopping is usually a big part of Boxing Day (Image; Getty)

Boxing Day is a public holiday in Great Britain, and has been since 1871.

If it falls on a Saturday, it is moved to the following Monday, and if it falls on a Sunday, we get the following Tuesday off.

Boxing Day is celebrated in countries that were formerly part of the British Empire – so it is celebrated in Hong Kong. Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Nigeria, Trinidad and Tobago, Singapore, South Africa and Bermuda.

In many of these countries it is primarily known as a shopping holiday similar to Black Friday – and is the day when many sales begin.

In other countries, the day is still a public holiday from work, but it has a more religious significance – with Romania, Hungary, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Scandinavia marking it as Boxing Day.

It is also celebrated as St Stephen’s Day in Ireland and in the Catalan region of Spain.

MORE: When was Christmas banned in England?

MORE: How to cope with winter’s mental health impact in a cost-of-living crisis

MORE: Out of exercise after two Covid Christmases? Expert tips for getting back into the party mood

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