Why is Boxing Day Celebrated

If the question ‘why is boxing day celebrated’ comes to your mind, this article can help you. Boxing Day is the day after Christmas. It is celebrated as a holiday in UK and many other western countries except America. In many countries, this day is celebrated as St. Stephens Day. Though the name of the day suggests it has to do something with the sport of boxing, it is not concerned with the sport of boxing in any way. Many people are not even aware of the reason behind Boxing Day as its origins are not clear. This article takes a look at the possible reasons why Boxing Day is celebrated in many parts of the world.

Why is Boxing Day Celebrated – Reasons

Rich gave gifts in boxes to their servants

The origins of Boxing Fay go back to old times when British Lords and Nobles gave gifts to their servants and staff who had helped them in organizing Christmas dinner. These servants literally took home boxes given by their employers and so the day started to be called as the Boxing Day. Staff and servants of rich people took a day off on the day after Christmas. As they prepared to go back to their homes, they were given boxes full of gifts by their employers. It is because of these gift boxes that the day started to be referred as Boxing Day.

Why is Boxing Day Celebrated

Box as a good luck charm for the success of the voyage

In ancient times when exploration was undertaken, sailing ships were provided a large box by priests to be kept on the ship as a good luck charm. The box used for this purpose was mostly a Christmas box and it remained on the ship for the entire journey. When the ship returned home, this box was handed back to the priests as a gesture of mass thanks for the safe journey and success of the voyage. Priest opened the box on Christmas Day and shared the gifts inside with the poor. Because of this tradition, the day after Christmas came to be known as Boxing Day.

Alms for the poor in churches

Another theory suggests that Boxing Day is associated with the practice of parishioners donating coins in the boxes kept inside the churches. Every church had an alms box where rich people placed coins. People coming to worship donated coins that were put inside these boxes and these boxes were opened the day after Christmas to distribute them among the poor and the needy. With the passage of time, this tradition of giving money and other gifts to the poor expanded and the day after Christmas was chosen to symbolize the gesture of donating alms to the needy. Today, people give away gifts in boxes to not only their staff members and servants but to all who provide them services such as their postmen, gardeners, doormen, etc.

Boxing Day is a bank holiday in the countries where it is celebrated. If the day after Christmas is a Sunday, people are given a holiday on Monday to compensate for their lapsed holiday. Today people celebrate Boxing Day as a day for leisure and recreational activities though they continue to give gifts generously.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Boxing Day by Sigismund von Dobschütz (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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