The day after Christmas is popularly known as 'Boxing Day' in many of the commonwealth nations, a name many of us still use without knowing the history behind it.
The holiday which is mostly recognised in Britain and Ireland, has nothing to do with the sport of boxing, as the name tends to suggest.
However, apart from being known as a national holiday to spend with family and friends and to eat up all the leftovers from the Christmas party the previous day, its origins are deeply vague in the pages of history and traditions.
Here are few widely accepted reasons why the day is called 'Boxing' Day:
- In British connotation, a Christmas 'Box' is often a name giving to a Christmas present.
- History has it that the day after Christmas used to be off for servants and they received a Christmas Box from their masters. They were also allowed to go home to give Christmas 'Boxes' to their own family and friends.
- Sources have also noted that a 'box' used to be kept in some churches to collect funds for the poor, which used to be opened the next day.
- Some other legends say that some ships used to set sail with a sealed box containing money on board, a sign for good luck. If the voyage turned out to be a success, the box was opened and the money inside it was distributed among poor by a priest.
Here are 5 quick facts to know about the day:
- Countries that historically celebrated this tradition include commonwealth nations like Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica and others.
- Etymologically, the 'Boxing Day' is thought to have originated from 'Christmas boxes', but no one actually knows where the idea to call the holiday "Boxing Day" came from.
- It is a secular holiday in commonwealth nations and is designated as 26 December, the day after Christmas.
- For the Catholics in the Commonwealth nations, 26 December is also known as St. Stephen's Day, which is a religious holiday.
- The day is not recognised in United States. Since the US liberated itself from Britain, the tradition of Boxing Day was lost as other American traditions gradually gained notice.