There are many stories to be told about the history of boxing day, below are some that we have discovered.
It was in the middle of the 19th century when Boxing Day officially originated under Queen Victoria’s reign. For many years the celebration fell on a weekend. It was then decided that it should be moved should the 26th fall on a weekend to the next working day, making sure that workers would also get a day off and resulting in Boxing Day becoming a Bank Holiday. (except for Canada)
There is also the story of St. Stephen, a little know Saint who achieved eternal fame for being the first Christian to be martyred for his faith by being stoned to death shortly after Christ’s crucifixion. This is why Boxing Day is known also known as St. Stephen’s Day, he is also named in the Christmas song, Good King Wenceslas.
“Good King Wenceslas looked out on the Feast of Stephen.”
Why is it called Boxing Day?
Again, there are many variations…
It was custom for tradesmen on Boxing Day to collect their Christmas boxes or gifts in return for good and reliable service throughout the year.
The traditional celebration of Boxing Day has also included giving money and other gifts to charitable institutions, needy individuals and people in service jobs.
The holiday may also date all the way back to the middle ages but the exact origin is unknown. Some say it may have begun with the Lords and Ladies of England who presented Christmas gifts in boxes to their servants on the 26th December. Alternatively, it is said that Priests would open the Church’s Alms (Charity) boxes on the day after Christmas and distributed the contents to the poor.
It would seem the day has claimed its name by setting a tradition of giving in the form of a box!
What to do on Boxing Day?
There are some great traditions on Boxing Day, ranging from football matches, horse racing to shopping in the post Christmas sales. We’ve put together a few ideas of our own that you could experience in the Bath and Bristol area:
Not forgetting a countryside walk, a tasty feast and games with family and friends.