Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Boxing Day

When I was little and asked my mother what Boxing Day was about, she said it was the day you broke down the boxes that your presents had been wrapped in on Christmas. While mom gets full credit for thinking on her feet, we finally decided to dig a little deeper and figure out what our British and Canadian brethren are up to the day after Christmas. So we put up our feet, polished off the rest of the nog, and turned to a site called WhyChristmas.com.

Boxing Day takes place on December 26th and is only celebrated in a few countries. It was started in the UK about 800 years ago, during the Middle Ages. It was the day when the alms box, collection boxes for the poor often kept in churches, were traditionally opened so that the contents could be distributed to poor people. Some churches still open these boxes on Boxing Day.

It might have been the Romans that first brought this type of collecting box to the UK, but they used them to collect money for the betting games which they played during their winter celebrations!

In Holland, some collection boxes were made out of a rough pottery called ‘earthenware’ and were shaped like pigs. Perhaps this is where we get the term ‘Piggy Bank’!

The Christmas Carol, Good King Wenceslas, is set on Boxing Day and is about a King in the Middle Ages who brings food to a poor family.

It was also traditional that servants got the day off to celebrate Christmas with their families on Boxing Day. Before World War II, it was common for working people (such as milkmen and butchers) to travel round their delivery places and collect their Christmas box or tip. This tradition has now mostly stopped and any Christmas tips, given to people such as postal workers and newspaper delivery children, are not normally given or collected on Boxing Day.

Today is also St. Stephen’s Day. To find out more about him, click on the link above.