What is Boxing Day, and why is it marked on the day after Christmas?

The day after Christmas is referred to as ‘Boxing Day’, and sees a variety of events – ranging from sports events to big shopping discounts – take place in many parts of the world.

Countries such as the UK and Australia see public holidays on the day as well. Interestingly, there is no definitive reason behind why the day is marked as such, and different theories exist.

The most popular theory is that ‘boxing’ refers to the cardboard boxes in which gifts and other items were packed for homeless people and any person in need of some extra clothing, food or other materials during this time.

It was particularly important as many countries in the Global North see biting temperatures prevail. Christmas is also strongly associated with the traditions of giving and sharing gifts, and that also extends to those who are needy.

Working-class people would often be working on Christmas Day, so December 26 would become the day they could really celebrate.

Others believe it comes from the post-Christmas custom of churches placing boxes outside their doors to collect money for distribution to less-fortunate members of society in need of Christmas cheer.

Some trace it to Britain’s proud naval tradition and the days when a sealed box of money was kept on board for lengthy voyages and then given to a priest for distribution to the poor if the voyage was successful.