What is Boxing Day, The Day after Christmas?

26 December in a Wooden Box with Red Bow - Open for Christmas

What is the Meaning of Boxing Day After Christmas Day?

Boxing Day is a strange name that seems to hold no ties to any other festivities. We celebrate this day every year during the holiday season, after Christmas Day, but what is Boxing Day?

In this article, here at Open for Christmas, we’re in fighting spirit. We donned our boxing gloves, got in the ring and discovered all there is to know about this traditional day. 

Where did Boxing Day come from? When is this special day celebrated? And why on earth is it called Boxing Day?

And no, we’re not actually talking about the sport here, in spite of the peculiar name. Stay with us as this is Boxing Day explained.

Day Scrabble Letters Balanced on Man Wearing Boxing Gloves - Open for Christmas

What is Boxing Day?

Firstly, you may be surprised to hear that only a handful of countries actually celebrate Boxing Day. And, those countries are the ones historic ties with the UK such as Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. 

Germany also celebrates this day, however, it is called “Zweite Feiertag” which translates to ‘second celebration’. 

And that translation is what Boxing Day essentially means nowadays. The second celebration of the main holiday, Christmas Day. 

Therefore, this leaves a whole portion of the world who may have never even heard of this traditional day on the festive calendar. 

Boxing Day has now become a public holiday in the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and is, therefore, a day many people look forward to as it extends the festivities.

Why Is It Called Boxing Day?

Boxing Day became Boxing Day when Queen Victoria was in reign in the 1800s. 

But, what gave this special day this name? Let’s find out.

Boxing Day History

Servants of wealthy families were presented with a box full of gifts from their masters to express their gratitude, along with bonus pay which was gratefully received. 

The servants would take these boxes home to their families to share on Boxing Day. Which was also a well-deserved day off for them to finally celebrate the holiday season.

Not only that, but Boxing day also has religious connections and celebrated as Saint Stephen’s Day in Western Christianity along with places such as the Catalonia region of Spain and Ireland. Saint Stephen was a very generous person and associated with donating money to charity. 

The reason the day is named Boxing Day is uncertain. However, there are strong beliefs that the boxes poor people received have a strong correlation. 

Another conception is the alms boxes that the churches used to collect donations for the poor. This began in the middle ages but some churches have continued this tradition, and even today will open the boxes on Boxing Day. 

What Day is Christmas?

Christmas Day is always celebrated on the 25th of December, the day after Christmas Eve which is always the 24th of December. 

To find out more about Christmas Day and why we celebrate the big day, have a read of our article all about the history of Christmas.

Gifts Around 26 Date on Calendar with Presents - Open for Christmas

When is Boxing Day?

As Boxing Day is the day after Christmas, this puts Boxing Day in the festive calendar as the 26th of December. 

In the table below, we’ve put a calendar together of the three dates to remember during the seasonal calendar, and what traditionally takes place during those days. 

24th December25th December26th December
Christmas Eve Christmas DayBoxing Day
Last-minute preparations are made. Santa delivers gifts to all children during the night. People may attend midnight mass.Gifts are opened, Christmas lunch is enjoyed and people spend time with their loved ones.The second Christmas Day. Spending time with loved ones, eating leftovers.

Christmas Eve is not a public holiday however Chrismas Day and Boxing Day both are. 

Therefore if the 25th and the 26th of December fall on a Saturday and Sunday, over the weekend, the public holidays are pushed to the Monday and Tuesday leading to a 4-day festive weekend.


Saying that many people, dependent on their occupation, will book a holiday over the festive period to maximise the celebrations and spend much needed time with their loved ones.

Why is Boxing Day Celebrated?

Boxing Day, as with many other major holidays, has a wealth of history. 

Have a watch of this short video which highlights the history and new traditions of the special celebration and how old and new have come together. 

What is the Point of Boxing Day?

Traditionally Boxing Day was a day off for the hard-working poor, servants and tradespeople, and a time to spend the day with the loved ones. 


Nowadays, things are a little different and you will hear people refer to Boxing Day as a ‘second Christmas’. 

Boxing Day Traditions Today

As the day is a public holiday, popular festive activities involve spending time with friends and family, eating Christmas dinner leftovers (hello turkey sandwiches) and kids playing with their brand new toys and stocking fillers.

In the UK, a major modern-day tradition is the Boxing Day premier league. Thousands of people will travel to a football stadium to watch a tense game of the national sport during the afternoon to be amongst other football fans and support their favourite team.

This wasn’t always the case and football was once a huge activity on Christmas Day with a full programme of matches. Music to any football fanatic’s ears. However, the final Christmas Day match took place in 1957. 

Boxing Day sales are also a significant part of the traditional day and we can compare them to the influence of Black Friday. 

Many people will head out early to queue and get to the sales as early as possible, whilst others will shop up a storm in the comfort of their own home.

Boxing Day Sale Tag on a Top - Open for Christmas

What is Christmas Day After Boxing Day – Our Final Thoughts

Boxing Day is a prominent day in the festive calendar for the UK and other British Commonwealth countries such as Canada, South Africa, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. 

Even though Boxing Day is not celebrated globally, it’s still a significant tradition and a wonderful day to celebrate in the holiday season every year with new traditions that have evolved over time. 

Boxes filled with gifts and presented to servants are no longer, but you can now find plenty of football, delicious leftovers and people full of the festive spirit as they enjoy their ‘second Christmas Day’. 

Whichever way you look at the special day, a ‘bonus Christmas’, second Christmas Day or just another bank holiday, Boxing Day is not going anywhere.

Boxing Day sales shopping and leftover turkey sandwiches anyone?

Related Festive Traditions and Open for Christmas Articles:

What is Boxing Day, The Day After Christmas?

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