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.

Why is Boxing Day called Boxing Day?

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 the day after Christmas Day – hence the name, 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


In more recent times, Boxing Day has become associated with sports, especially horse racing and football matches.

Why is Boxing Day called Boxing Day?

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

Why is Boxing Day called Boxing Day?
Boxing Day sales on Oxford Street in London.

Whatever you’re doing, have a great Boxing Day.