Pearson Adult Learning Centre Home
Pearson Adult Learning Centre
  Weekly Feature: (December 24, 2003)


Boxing Day—Day of Giving or Day of Sales?
Louise's Weekly Feature


Boxing Day is the holiday celebrated the day after Christmas, December 26th, in Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, although most Canadians have no idea about the origins of this day off from work. In Britain, it is also known as St. Stephen’s Day, which commemorates the first Christian martyr. The holiday may have started in the Middle Ages, but other sources date it to the middle of the nineteenth century, under Queen Victoria. In any case, the origins of this holiday are not very clear.

One theory is that business people gave boxes of food and fruit to trades people and servants the day after Christmas in appreciation for their work. These gifts would have been presented in boxes, so the name “Boxing Day” was penned.

Another theory is that in olden days everyone living on a large estate would celebrate Christmas together, so December 26th was a convenient time for the lord of the manor to distribute the annual allotment of goods like cloth, leather, food supplies, tools, etc, which he was obliged to distribute. Since everyone put their supplies into boxes, the day came to be called, “Boxing Day.”

Still another theory is that on the day after Christmas, servants in England would arrive at work with boxes which their employers would fill with coins, like a Christmas bonus.

One final theory is that the alms boxes in churches were opened on December 26th, and the money collected over the year was distributed to the poor.

Whatever its origins, today in Canada, government buildings and small businesses are closed, but the department stores and the malls are open and busy with people returning gifts or shopping frantically at “Boxing Day Blowout Sales.” Some people use the day to meet with friends and family who they may not have visited before or at Christmas.

However you spend the day, make sure you quiz everyone you meet about the origins of Boxing Day.

Happy Boxing Day!


Visit Last Week's Feature:
Lights in Winter Holidays

Weekly Feature Index (Includes all 2002 to date Weekly Features with descriptions)


Return to Top



Visit our Contact Us page to send email to the centre.
Copyright © 1997 to 2009 Pearson Adult Learning Centre, New Westminster School District 40
Web Site Created by The Educated Web
Last modified: July 31, 2009