Why is December 26th called “Boxing Day?”

By Jim Lawson on December 26, 2023
(Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images)

Why is December 26th called “Boxing Day?”

Well, it has nothing to do with the sport of boxing and everything to do with the Victorians – like most traditions around Christmas.

Here’s everything you need to know about the day after Christmas.

It is is only celebrated in a few countries; mainly ones historically connected to the UK (such as Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand) and in some European countries. In Germany it is known as ‘Zweiter Feiertag’ (which means ‘second celebration’) and also ‘Zweiter Weihnachtsfeiertag’.

The name comes from a time during Queen Victoria’s reign when the rich used to box up gifts to give to the poor.

Boxing Day was traditionally a day off for servants – a day when they received a special Christmas box from their masters.

The servants would also go home on Boxing Day to give Christmas boxes to their families.

The 26 December also has religious connections and is celebrated as Saint Stephen’s Day in Ireland and the Catalonia region of Spain.

In some European countries – such as Hungary, Germany, Poland and the Netherlands – Boxing Day is celebrated as a second Christmas Day.

There are also often sports played on Boxing Day in the UK, especially horse racing and soccer matches! In Australia there is the cricket Boxing Day Test Match, where Australia play another country. Boxing Day is also when shops traditionally has/had big sales after Christmas in the UK (like Black Friday here in the USA).

The 26th December also marks the start of Kwanzaa, a seven day festival that celebrates African and African American culture and history.

Around the site