What is Boxing Day?


In Britain and Commonwealth countries the day after Christmas is known as Boxing Day (the second day of Christmas). It’s a secular holiday that coincides with the Feast of St. Stephen. Growing up in England, Boxing Day was one of my favorite parts of the Christmas holiday. Businesses (other than stores) are typically closed on Boxing Day (which lately has become a big shopping day) and it functions as a sort of buffer to recover from the jollity of Christmas Day, enjoying leftovers and presents.

There’s some disagreement about the precise origin of Boxing Day. At least in England, there’s connection to the common practice of allowing servants to have the day after Christmas as a chance to return to their family homes and celebrate, often taking boxed presents from their employers with them. There’s also European tradition of almsgiving on St. Stephen’s Day, which may have been collected and distributed in boxes.

Whatever its origin, there’s something beautiful about an empty day–a day with nothing on the agenda except enjoying food that’s already been cooked, gifts that have already been unwrapped, and simply resting in the beauty of Christmas.


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