Boxing day is a public bank holiday that celebrated on the 26th of December every year in the United Kingdom and all other countries that were British colonies. The bank holiday attached means that the public holiday can be celebrated on that day or two days later. Boxing Day is an additional day of Christmas Day in other countries like Scotland and United States. Other countries that celebrate Boxing Day as the second Christmas Day are Netherlands, Germany, Poland, and Belgium among others.
Origins of Boxing Day
Although there is no difinitive origin for the naming of Boxing Day, there are several theories as to how this day was named.
In Britain, servants were expected to wait on their employers on Christmas Day; then the next day they were allowed to visit their families and friends. The day after Christmas, wealthy homeowners would give their employees Christmas boxes which contained presents, money, and leftover food to take to their families as a way of rewarding them for the work they had done throughout the year.
In Europe, it was also customary to collect offerings and donations for the poor in the days after Christmas. This may have come about from the Feast of Saint Stephen, celebrated on December 26th by the Western Church, during which boxes are left outside churches to collect offerings.
Boxing Day Events and Controversy
People celebrate Boxing Day with different events in different countries of the world provided that the government declares that day to be the public holiday.
Most people primarily spend this day with family and friends, especially those who were absent on Christmas Day. Top football clubs and rugby leagues also play on this day, for example in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
In other countries like the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, this day is considered to be a day for shopping. Wholesaler and retailers open their shops very early in the morning. The prices of goods are reduced on that day, and the stock is stored in bulk since many people come to purchase different items.
Not everyone believes that Boxing Day should be spent shopping, and there are active campaigns to keep shops closed on Boxing Day. A petition was delivered to UK Prime Minister Theresa May in 2016 to keep all shops closed on Boxing Day so that sellers can also relax and celebrate the holiday. 235,000 signatures were collected before the government rejected that petition. The government thought that it is the traders to decide whether to rest on Boxing Day or embark on their commercial work. However, shoppers conducted a survey in 2016 which showed that 84% felt that the shops should be closed to give the staff off at least for two days.