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The Origin of Boxing Day & a Set of Worldwide Traditions

To live life to its fullest, you just need an excuse to celebrate. It can be the beginning of festivals, and it can also be the end, just like Boxing Day. It’s a day with its roots deeply embedded in British culture, where celebrations are extended for an extra day. After all the food you binged on and gifts you received on Christmas day, it is time to relax a little and unwind after the grand Xmas celebrations while still living in the Christmas glee. Boxing Day has an incredible history and origin that dates centuries back and is still cherished in multiple parts of the world.

The History

There are a number of narratives about the origin of Boxing Day, making it hard to be certain how exactly this holiday came into being. However, one common concept is goodwill and charity for the less privileged. One of the ideas that revolve around the origin of the day is the opening of alms boxes. These boxes were installed in churches before Christmas to collect donations for the poor. The boxes were opened the day after Christmas, and the money was given away to the needy. 

Another theory, which probably is most believed, is from the 19th century. It was when the rich people would have servants who worked for them and served them on the day of Christmas. The employers used to send these servants home the day after Christmas so they could have a day off to spend with their families. Usually, the workers were sent home with “boxes” containing the leftovers from the Christmas feast, gifts, bonuses, and tips. 

Celebrations around the World

Where on hand Boxing Day has majorly evolved to become a shopping festival in the world, there are still different cultural practices and traditions that are followed around the world. 

North America

What to Do If You're Alone on Christmas

After all the hectic preparations of Christmas, along with hosting and attending get-togethers, people in North America prefer to take a breather. They pause for a day and relax with their family indoors to recharge for another round of fun on New Year’s Eve. Families in the USA do not appreciate any kind of interruption while they rest up. People living in the states don’t get dressed, and neither do they answer their phones. Besides, some also cover their windows with black trash bags to block any light coming in so as to slack off in peace.   

England, Hong Kong and Canada

Boxing Day sales tradition is over as shops begin discounts early and plan  to not open on the 26th

For people living in Canada, England, and Hong Kong, Boxing Day is another extension of the shopping fest. A lot of retail stores, brands, and voucher websites like TVC host Boxing Day sales to provide shopping lovers with one more chance to catch up with their favourites while availing some great discounts. As it’s already a holiday and all the schools and offices are closed, people are seen in the markets and malls taking home carts full of the best items. Those who don’t wish to get out of their houses tend to surf through the Boxing Day sales online and place their orders from their comfy couches. In general, Boxing Day has gradually evolved into a shopping festival when the stores are busiest, and the sales are smoothly making and breaking records.  

New Zealand

Boxing Day in New Zealand

December is the summer season in New Zealand, which makes Boxing Day a perfect time for the people living there to enjoy the pleasant weather. A huge amount of people are seen going to the lakes and rivers for a little picnic, while many go to the ocean to take a swim. However, some New Zealanders also choose to stay in their homes, watch sports, and enjoy their Christmas leftovers. 


Harbour Cruise: Sydney-to-Hobart Race Start - Australian National Maritime  Museum

Boxing Day in Australia is mostly about a strong focus on sports-related traditions. Many Australians love to watch a Boxing Day special test match between the cricket teams of Australia and other countries. Others who aren’t much interested in cricket prefer to enjoy the Sydney-to-Hobart yacht race. This is one of the most challenging yacht races in the world, where sailors start the competition in Sydney and end in Hobart. In short, Boxing Day offers the residents of Australia a wide range of special sports events, screenings, and programs to enjoy the holiday. 


Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival for Afropop Worldwide — Jason Gardner Photo +  Video

In the Bahamas, you wouldn’t find many people in malls or shopping alleys; Instead, you would find them all dressed up in costumes for a wonderful festival called Junkanoo. This tradition dates back to the 16th century when people come out for a street parade on 26th December in extravagant costumes, masks, and headgear. The crowd then proceed on the colourful streets while singing, dancing, and playing music. Junkanoo is a cultural celebration of the freedom of slaves from the suffocating lives of subjugation. It’s a pure and lively festival beating the drums on the mindful concept of being free, making it one of the most loved traditions of Boxing Day.

Ahsan Khan
Ahsan Khan
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