The holiday started in Great Britain as a custom of giving “Christmas boxes” to tradesmen, postmen or various kinds of servants in order to thank them for good service throughout the year. Those servants who had to serve their masters on Christmas Day were allowed to visit their family the next day. What is more, their employers gave them boxes to take home with some gifts, bonuses and, sometimes, leftover food. The tradition was first mentioned as early as 1663. Another theory explaining the name “Boxing day” states that it comes from people getting rid of their empty gift boxes after Christmas Day.
Nowadays Boxing Day has become an important shopping holiday in many countries, such as the United Kingdom. Many people return or exchange their Christmas gifts, while others take advantage of post-holiday sales. It is probably the second, after Black Friday, biggest shopping day of the year.
In the United States the day after Christmas Day is a public holiday in 4 states: Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas. Schools and most businesses are closed then, and it is a day off for most workers. The fact that most states do not consider December 26 as a state holiday does not mean that children have to go to school and everyone goes to work then. Most schools remain closed, so many families use up a vacation day.
Did you know?
December 26 is also the date of beginning another holiday – Kwanzaa. It is a week-long holiday celebrating the culture and traditions of people of African origin. It is not only connected with Boxing Day because of the date. The end of Kwanzaa is a feast and exchanging gifts.