What even is Boxing Day?
For many Americans, the day after Christmas usually means getting back to work and looking ahead to the new year. For other countries, the day after Christmas is a recognized public and federal holiday known as Boxing Day.
Originating in the United Kingdom, Boxing Day is mainly celebrated by countries formerly under the British Empire. Some of these countries include Canada, New Zealand, Scotland, and Ireland.
As far as the origin of the holiday goes, two theories dating back to the early 1830s suggest that the holiday began when the rich would box gifts for the less fortunate the day after Christmas. During these times, Boxing Day was a day off for servants and they would receive a gift to give to their families.
In Canada, the day after Christmas is recognized as a federal holiday and for many, it is the biggest shopping days of the year. Numerous companies save their best deals for the day. Boxing Day is comparable to the popular, unofficial shopping holiday known as Black Friday in the U.S.
Minot State senior and Canadian student Nathan Slobodian described the day after Christmas as an opportunity for family time.
“For me, Boxing Day is a day for spending time with family and taking in the holiday season before it’s gone, along with checking out what kind of post-Christmas sales there are,” he said.
Sporting events are also notoriously popular on Boxing Day, when many of the top soccer leagues in the United Kingdom and Italy play their most important regular season games of the year. Other sporting events like cricket and horse racing, draw in much bigger crowds on the holiday than any other time. In Canada, the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship is a popular ice hockey tournament where Team Canada plays against other countries in an elimination style tournament beginning on Boxing Day.
Minot State Canadian student Blake Gallagher recalled spending the day cheering on Team Canada.
“It’s a tradition like no other,” Gallagher said. “I would go as far as to say it’s one of the biggest traditions in Canada, and personally, I know many people that look forward to having the whole day to watch hockey.”
In the United States, the day after Christmas is recognized as a public holiday in Texas, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Kansas; it is not recognized federally. As most school systems are closed, many families use the day after Christmas as a vacation day in order to be with family.
Boxing Day is celebrated in many ways across the globe, but one constant theme remains: the celebration of tradition and family.