Why is 26 December called Boxing Day?

Boxing Day takes place on December 26th and is only celebrated in a few countries; mainly ones historically connected to the UK (such as Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand) and in many European countries.

It was started in the UK about 800 years ago, during the Middle Ages. It was the day when the alms box, collection boxes for the poor often kept in churches, were traditionally opened so that the contents could be distributed to poor people. Some churches still open these boxes on Boxing Day

Alms box in West Markham All Saints church, Nottinghamshire
Alms box in West Markham All Saints church, Nottinghamshire

Historically, this was also a day off for servants when they would receive a Christmas box from their masters with small gifts.

St. Stephen’s Day

It is also St. Stephen’s Day (or ‘the feast of Stephen’) and is when the Carol ‘Good King Wenceslas’ is set. It’s about helping the poor, so it has a strong connection to Boxing Day.



Traditionally, Pantomimes started to play on Boxing Day.

Aladdin at Beacon Arts Centre
Aladdin at Beacon Arts Centre


There are also often sports played on Boxing Day in the UK, especially horse racing and football matches!

Now? Most people head out to the Boxing Day Sales.

A Festive Fethiye Times - Boxing Day