Day of Goodwill
Boxing Day is a public holiday celebrated on 26th December in several countries as part of the Christmas holidays.
Typically it will be moved and celebrated on the next weekday if 26 December is a Saturday or Sunday. If Christmas Day falls on a weekend, Boxing Day may be observed on Tuesday 27 December.
This holiday is known as the second day of Christmas and it may be observed as St. Stephen’s Day in some countries. This is a list of who is off on the second and third days of Christmas around the world.
Why is it called Boxing Day?
It has been said that the name of Boxing Day comes from people getting rid of empty boxes from presents after Christmas day. While a beguiling notion, the tradition dates back to England in the middle ages, which predates the modern custom of giving wrapped presents on Christmas Day.
In truth, the exact origin of the meaning of Boxing Day is unknown. One theory is that it comes from the fact that servants were given their presents in boxes on this day, the 26th being the first working day after Christmas day. This tradition of giving gifts for service extended beyond servants to tradesmen, such as milkmen, butchers, etc.
Another popular theory is that it is named after the custom of priests opening alms boxes in churches after Christmas. These held money which had been donated to the poor and needy in the run up to Christmas. Some churches still open these boxes on Boxing Day.
Boxing Day around the world
In South Australia, 26th December is a public holiday known as Proclamation day. It celebrates the proclamation of South Australia as a British province by Captain John Hindmarsh when he arrived at Holdfast Bay on 28 December 1836.
In South Africa, December 26th is a public holiday known as the Day of Goodwill. Before 1980, the day was celebrated as Boxing Day.
Boxing Day was a traditionally important day in the Fox Hunting calendar. Despite hunting being banned in England and Wales since 2005, Hunt meetings that do not kill foxes still take place with over 600 meets organised on Boxing Day 2016.
Though not a federal holiday, some states will observe a holiday on the second day of Christmas. These states are Kansas, North Carolina, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
Many employers will also give the second day of Christmas as a holiday, though this does depend on which day of the week Christmas Day falls on.
St. Stephen’s Day
In non-Commonwealth countries, the day is more commonly referred to as St Stephen’s Day or the ‘Feast of Stephen’ as mentioned in the carol ‘Good King Wenceslas’.