But where does the name “Boxing Day” actually come from (clue: it's got nothing to do with throwing punches), and why do we get that extra day off after the Christmas festivities?
Here’s everything you need to know:
When is Boxing Day?
Boxing Day is always celebrated the day after Christmas, on the 26 December. It has been a public holiday in the UK since 1871, and is celebrated across much of the Commonwealth.
Why do we call it Boxing Day?
Boxing Day is the public holiday which follows Christmas Day. There are various stories with links to its origins, but no definitive one.
The Oxford English Dictionary dates the name back to the 1830s. Falling on St Stephen’s Day, history suggests that the day got its name from the tradition of churches collecting donations in boxes for the poor after Christmas during the Victorian era.
The day also seems to have its roots in the tradition of servants being given a day off to celebrate with family after Christmas Day, where they would often be gifted a box of gifts or with a holiday bonus.
What do we do on Boxing Day?
Until the ban came into force in 2005, fox hunting was synonymous with December 26 for some, and people still continue the tradition to this day by having drag hunts, in which dogs follow a scent pre-laid by organisers.
When it comes to sport, the day is now more widely associated with a full day of football fixtures. Since Christmas Day football was abandoned due to dwindling numbers after 1958, Boxing Day has become the football family day out over the festive season and proves extremely popular.
It is now an institution in the fixture lists across most of the English leagues, and matches are planned as locally as possible, so that fans don’t have to travel too far during the holidays.
Boxing Day shopping has now been a staple of the Christmas holidays for some years, with the sales beginning on December 26 and continuing into the New Year. Though traditionally the post-Christmas sales would begin on January 1, the frenzy for post-Christmas deals was brought forward a few days to match demand and was seen as an opportunity to boost sales during the 2008 recession.
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