On most of the calenders I look at through the course of December, I notice that the day after Christmas, December 26, is labeled Boxing Day in the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. I've heard talk of Boxing Day my whole life, but never really understood what it was or what happens.

When I was a kid I thought it was called Boxing Day because of all the empty boxes leftover from Christmas. To eight-year-old me that made sense as the basis for a holiday.

Boxing Day
Photo: Ben Kuhns

So what is Boxing Day?

According to the video above from National Geographic, it seems like Boxing Day is English (and former English Colonies) Black Friday. It's an extra holiday after Christmas. There are big sales and soccer games AKA football matches.

It started out in the 1800's as a day when the poor and servant classes in England would get presents. People would also get the day off from work and sometimes a little extra pay. The origin of the name is unknown, but it doesn't have anything to do with the sport. Or empty cardboard cubes.

An interesting Boxing Day tradition takes places in the English the village of Marshfield. The Mummers, also know as The Old Time Paper Boys. This tradition may date to the 12th Century, when people dressed in costume to ask the wealthy people of the area for donations.

Seven figures, led by the Town Crier with his handbell, dressed in costumes made from strips of newsprint and coloured paper, perform their play several times along the high street. Beginning in the Market place after the Christmas Hymns which are led by the vicar the mummers arrive to the sound of the lone bell. The five-minute performances follow the same set and continue up to the almshouses. The final performance is outside of one of the local public houses where the landlord delivers a tot of whisky for the "Boys". -Wikipedia


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