Boxing Day in the UK – A Holiday after Christmas Day
Boxing Day is always held on December 26, which most people will recognize as being the day after Christmas. Christmas Day, being held on December 25, is always a much bigger holiday, but Boxing Day has had its very own traditions and festivities for hundreds of years. While Boxing Day may refer to a variety of different things, most people in the UK or other Commonwealth countries celebrate this holiday every 26 December. As an official banking holiday, it is one of the officially designated days off for employees in the UK.
This is one of the most peculiar holidays for those who do not live in the UK or other Commonwealth countries. For those in the US or other countries, the name of this holiday would seem to refer to the idea of celebrating the sport of boxing. However, this has nothing to do with the traditions or celebrations surrounding the day of Boxing Day.
One of the theories about the origins of this day details how servants who had to work on Christmas day got to have the following day, Boxing Day, off. Servants were responsible for taking care of all the important Christmas festivities and meals which were held at houses and homes across the UK, and they were given the next day off. The boxing aspect of the day possibly refers to the idea of presenting gift boxes to those who performed a service during the previous year.
One of the other theories which have been presented for the meaning and source of Boxing Day in the UK centres on the religious beginnings of many holidays there. 26 December also celebrated as a day to honour St. Stephen, one of the great Christian martyrs. In this way, those living in the UK prepared boxes for the churches. These boxes were used to collect tithes and offerings for the church.
Although the source of this holiday is not specifically known, the modern day traditions are well known. In 1871, the banking holiday was granted to those living in the UK and the other countries which comprise the Commonwealth nations. Typically, the vast majority of celebrations focus on the events on which the day was begun. People in Britain will usually present some sort of gift box to those in need. In addition, all churches are open for the special day, with unique services being held for Boxing Day. The martyrdom of Saint Stephen is observed, and Christians in the UK are encouraged to participate in these religious activities.
Due to its proximity to Christmas, which has become a much larger holiday, Boxing Day celebrations are usually conjoined with those put on for the Christmas holidays. Instead of having separate events, most of the people in the UK will celebrate with family on these days.
Baking is a popular activity for some to do, as well as other activities such as going to concerts, movies, or going shopping. Boxing Day in the UK, held every year on 26 December has grown from its original roots to become a major banking holiday for those in the UK.