So what is Boxing Day? Historically, Boxing Day was the day when servants would receive a "Christmas box" from their employers. This tradition dates from the Middle Ages, and some scholars speculate it stems from the fact that servants would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day. Therefore, they were given December 26th as a holiday to spend with their families. The masters would send boxes home with the servants containing gifts and bonuses and leftover food. In the picture below, a group of orphans is receiving gifts in 1921.
|Topical Press Agency/Getty|
Another clue to the origin of Boxing Day comes from the carol "Good King Wenceslas." If you recall, the song goes, "Good King Wenceslas looked on on the feast of Stephen." December 26 is also known as St. Stephen's Day and celebrated as such in Ireland. Wenceslas was the Duke of Bohemia in the 10th century. He saw a poor man gathering wood in a snowstorm and brought him food and drink.
In present times, Boxing Day is a shopping holiday, much like Black Friday in the United States. Stores run sales and prices drop. Doorbuster deals and extended hours are common. Interestingly, Boxing Day is a popular day for fox hunting by mounted hunters. Hunting actual fox is illegal, but many hunters use scent drag trails instead.
So what are you doing this Boxing Day?