Boxing Day: Wikis


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Boxing Day
Observed by Commonwealth of Nations, Hong Kong, Germany, Switzerland
Type Bank Holiday / Public Holiday
Date 26 December
(or 27 or 28 December)
Related to St. Stephen's Day
Christmas box redirects here; it may also refer to shrubs of the genus Sarcococca.

Boxing Day is a bank and public holiday commonly occurring on the 26th of December. It is observed in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Ghana, Switzerland, Germany, Greenland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica and countries in the Commonwealth of Nations with a mainly Christian population. In South Africa this public holiday is now known as the Day of Goodwill. Though it is not an official holiday in the United States, the term "Boxing Day" is used by some Americans, particularly those that live near the Canada – United States border. In Canada, Boxing Day is listed in the Canada Labour Code as a holiday.[1][2] It is not an official holiday in Quebec or British Columbia.[3]



The traditional recorded celebration of Boxing Day has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions. The European tradition has been dated to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown and there are some claims that it goes back to the late Roman/early Christian era; metal boxes were placed outside churches used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen.[4] In the United Kingdom it certainly became a custom of the nineteenth century Victorians for tradesmen to collect their "Christmas boxes" or gifts in return for good and reliable service throughout the year on the day after Christmas.[5] However, the exact etymology of the term "Boxing" is unclear, with several competing theories, none of which is definitively true.[6] Another possibility is that the name derives from an old English tradition: in exchange for ensuring that wealthy landowners' Christmases ran smoothly, their servants were allowed to take the 26th off to visit their families. The employers gave each servant a box containing gifts and bonuses (and sometimes leftover food). In addition, around the 1800s, churches opened their alms boxes (boxes where people place monetary donations) and distributed the contents to the poor.

Public holiday

Boxing Day is traditionally celebrated on 26 December, St. Stephen's Day, the day after Christmas Day.[7][8] Unlike St. Stephen's Day, Boxing Day is a secular holiday but is usually on 26 December unless this is a Sunday in which case it moves to 27th: the public holiday is always moved to the following Monday if 26 December is a Saturday or Sunday; for example if Christmas Day is a Friday, Boxing Day will be on Saturday but the public holiday will be the following Monday. And if it falls on a Saturday, then Boxing day will occur on Monday. In Ireland—when it was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland—the UK's Bank Holidays Act 1871 established the feast day of St Stephen as a non-moveable public holiday on 26 December. Since Partition, the name "Boxing Day" is used only by the authorities in Northern Ireland (which remained part of the United Kingdom). There, Boxing Day is a movable public holiday in line with the rest of the United Kingdom.

The Banking and Financial Dealings Act of 1971 established "Boxing Day" as a public holiday in Scotland. In the Australian state of South Australia, 28 December is a public holiday known as Proclamation Day and Boxing Day is not normally a public holiday. However, Canada, the USA, and many other countries use Boxing day for commercial use. Items usually cost less and many sales are on. Traditionally people would save one of their gifts that was still wrapped and donate it to charity. Now it has turned into a much more commercial occasion, mainly for people to save money on many items.

Day of Goodwill

The Day of Goodwill is a South African public holiday celebrated annually on the 26th of December.[9] Prior to 1980, the day was celebrated as the more British Boxing Day. The new naming is thought to show a break with the country's colonial past.[10]

The day typically sees international sporting events played, on account it is in mid summer. Locals not attending a match celebrate with braais (Afrikaans for "barbecue").[10]


In the countries that observe this holiday, 26 December is commonly referred to both as Boxing Day and as St. Stephen's Day, no matter what day of the week it occurs.[11] However, in some countries, holidays falling on Saturday or Sunday are observed on the next weekday. Boxing Day cannot be on a Sunday, that day being the officially recognised day of worship, so traditionally it was the next working day of the week following Christmas Day, (i.e. any day from Monday to Saturday).

In recent times, this tradition has been either forgotten or ignored. Most, but not all, calendars and media outlets consider 26 December to be Boxing Day even when it falls on a Sunday.

If Boxing Day falls on a Saturday, then Monday 28 December is declared a bank or public holiday. In the United Kingdom and some other countries, this is accomplished by Royal Proclamation. In some Canadian provinces, Boxing Day is a statutory holiday[12] that is always celebrated on 26 December. In Canadian provinces where Boxing Day is a statutory holiday, and it falls on a Saturday or Sunday, compensation days are given in the following week.[12]

If Boxing Day falls on a Sunday, then Christmas Day would be on a Saturday, so in countries where these are both bank or public holiday, the Statutory Holiday for Christmas is moved to Monday 27 December and the Statutory Holiday for Boxing Day is moved to Tuesday 28 December.[13]

If Christmas Day falls on a Sunday, then Boxing Day is on Monday 26 December, and no Royal Proclamation is required. In such a circumstance, a 'substitute bank holiday in the place of Christmas Day' is declared for Tuesday 27 December, so the Boxing Day holiday occurs before the substitute Christmas holiday.


Although the same legislation—the Bank Holidays Act 1871—originally established the bank holidays throughout the United Kingdom, the day after Christmas was defined as Boxing Day in England, Scotland and Wales, and the feast day of St Stephen in Ireland.[13](Note that a 'substitute bank holiday in place of 26 December' is only possible in Northern Ireland, reflecting the legal difference in that St. Stephen's Day does not automatically shift to the Monday in the same way as Boxing Day.)


In Canada,[14] New Zealand, the United Kingdom,[15] and some states of Australia,[16] Boxing Day is primarily known as a shopping holiday, much as the United States treats the day after Thanksgiving. It is a time where shops have sales, often with dramatic price decreases. For many merchants, Boxing Day has become the day of the year with the greatest revenue. In the UK in 2009 it was estimated that up to 12 million shoppers appeared at the sales (a rise of almost 20% compared to 2008, although this was also affected by the fact that the VAT would go back up to 17.5% from 1 January).[17]

Many retailers open very early (typically 5 am or even earlier) and offer doorbuster deals and loss leaders to draw people to their stores. It is not uncommon for long queues to form early in the morning of 26 December, hours before the opening of shops holding the big sales, especially at big-box consumer electronics retailers.[14] Once inside, the shoppers often rush and grab, as many stores have a limited quantity of big draw or deeply discounted items.[18] Because of the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, many choose to stay home and avoid the hectic shopping experience. The local media often cover the event, mentioning how early the shoppers began queueing up, providing video of shoppers standing in line and later leaving with their purchased items.[19] The Boxing Day sales have the potential for customer stampedes, injuries and even fatalities.[20] As a result, many retailers have implemented practices aimed at controlling large numbers of shoppers, most whom are typically irate due to the cold (or, in Australia and New Zealand, hot) weather, and anxious for bargains. They may limit entrances, restrict the number of patrons in a store at a time, provide tickets to people at the head of the line to guarantee them a hot ticket item, and canvass lined-up shoppers to inform them of inventory limitations.[18]

In recent years, retailers have expanded their deals to "Boxing Week". While Boxing Day is 26 December, many retailers who hold Boxing Day Sales will run the sales for several days before or after 26 December, often up to New Year's Eve. Notably in the recession of late 2008, a record number of retailers were holding early promotions due to a weak economy.[21] Canada's Boxing Day has often been compared with the American Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and, in 2009, a number of major Canadian retailers had their own Black Friday promotions in order to discourage shoppers from crossing the border.[22]

In some areas of Canada, particularly in Atlantic Canada and parts of Northern Ontario, most retailers are prohibited by law from opening on Boxing Day. In these areas, sales which would otherwise be scheduled for 26 December are moved to the 27th.[23][24]

In Ireland, since 1902, St. Stephen's Day was considered to be a day that most stores would remain closed, similar to Christmas Day. In 2009, some stores decided to open on this day, breaking a 107-year-old tradition. Some stores have also started their January sales on this day.

Cyber Boxing Day

The online version of Boxing Day is sometimes known as Cyber Boxing Day. In the UK in 2008, Boxing Day was the busiest online shopping day of the year.[25] In 2009, many retailers with both online and High Street stores launched their online sales on Christmas Eve and their High Street sales on Boxing Day.[26]


In both England and Scotland, it is traditional for the Premier League and Scottish Premier League respectively, as well as the lower divisions and Rugby Football leagues, to hold a full program of football and Rugby matches on Boxing Day. Traditionally matches on Boxing Day are played against local rivals. This was originally to avoid teams and their fans having to travel a long distance to an away game on the day after Christmas Day. It also makes the day an important one in the sporting calendar.

In horse racing, there is the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park Racecourse in Surrey. It's the second most prestigious chase in England, after the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The association of Boxing Day with sport in early village celebrations has led to the folk etymology that Boxing Day is traditionally associated with boxing, although the word box can mean a gift or gratuity, especially one given at Christmas, especially in Britain.

Australia holds the first day of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the start to the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. As of the 2009/10 season, Boxing day has also become a day on which local football rivals Gold Coast United and Brisbane Roar clash in the newly established South East Queensland derby.

The IIHF World U20 Championship (Ice Hockey) typically begins on 26 December. It is most often hosted in Canada.

The NHL tends to have close to a full slate of games (13 will be played in 2009), following the league-wide days off given for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

The Spengler Cup (Ice Hockey) also begins on 26 December in Davos, Switzerland and includes HC Davos, Team Canada and other top European Hockey teams.

CBFL (the Christmas Break Football League, or Chanukah Break Football league, depending) holds the annual Billy Martin Memorial Classic on December 26 in Riverside, California. Many football legends, such as Dan Marino, Lyle Alzado, and Sean Astin, the actor who played Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger in the movie Rudy, have played in the annual CBFL event.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Collins, 2003, p. 38.
  5. ^ What is boxing day? British Christmas Customs and Traditions.
  6. ^ Boxing Day.
  7. ^ American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition - 'Boxing Day'
  8. ^ Oxford English
  9. ^ About South Africa - Public Holidays, South African Government Information
  10. ^ a b The Day of Goodwill (Public Holiday),
  11. ^ "BBC Radio 4 schedule, 26 December 2004". 17 November 2004. Retrieved 17 December 2009. 
  12. ^ a b Manitoba Employment Standards Branch (27 November 2009). "Fact Sheet".,gen-holidays-after-april-30-07,factsheet.html#q13. Retrieved 17 December 2009. 
  13. ^ a b Directgov. "Bank Holidays and British Summertime". Retrieved 17 December 2009. 
  14. ^ a b News Staff (26 December 2005). "Boxing Day expected to rake in $1.8 billion". Retrieved 17 December 2009. 
  15. ^ Terry Kirby (27 December 2006). "Boxing Day sales soar as shoppers flock to malls". Retrieved 17 December 2009. 
  16. ^ Frances Steward (26 December 2008). "$1 billion post-Christmas shopping spree".,22606,24843460-2682,00.html. Retrieved 17 December 2009. 
  17. ^ BBC online
  18. ^ a b Ashleigh Patterson (25 December 2007). "How to become a Boxing Day shopping pro". Retrieved 17 December 2009. 
  19. ^ (26 December 2007). "Boxing Day begins with early rush of bargain hunters". Retrieved 17 December 2009. 
  20. ^ "Worker dies at Long Island Wal-Mart after being trampled in Black Friday stampede". 28 November 2008. Retrieved 17 December 2009. 
  21. ^ News Staff (21 December 2008). "Boxing Day comes early as shoppers search for deals". Retrieved 17 December 2009. 
  22. ^ CBC News (27 November 2009). "Canadian retailers try their own Black Friday". Retrieved 17 December 2009. 
  23. ^ (2007-12-22). "Boxing Day, The Debate Continues". Retrieved 2009-12-26. 
  24. ^ The Canadian Press (2009-12-26). "Boxing Day madness: shoppers descend on stores looking for deals". Retrieved 2009-12-26. 
  25. ^ IMRG (22 December 2009). "Many retailers’ sales to start on Christmas Eve.". Retrieved 22 December 2009. 
  26. ^ Telegraph (22 December 2009). "Boxing Day sales start on Christmas Eve.". Retrieved 22 December 2009. 

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also boxing day



Wikipedia has an article on:



Proper noun

Boxing Day


Boxing Day

  1. The day after Christmas, December 26th.

Derived terms


See also

Simple English

Boxing Day is a public holiday in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. It is also a holiday in many other countries in the Commonwealth of Nations. It is based on a long custom of giving gifts to poor people.

It is usually celebrated on 26 December, the day after Christmas Day;[1][2]. In some countries the public holiday is moved to the next weekday if 26 December is a Saturday or Sunday.


Boxing Day is an old custom going back to the Middle Ages. The main feature is the giving of gifts to workers or to poor people. The name has many different histories[3].


  1. American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition - 'Boxing Day'
  2. Oxford English

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