Boxing Day used to be a very big deal around these parts and I suppose that it still is, but nothing will ever compete against the legendary A&B Sound Boxing Day sales of yore. These days, we’re far more likely to see more of a Boxing Week of sales, but with the increased infiltration of the American Black Friday tradition in Canada, I’m not so sure that there is the same level of excitement surrounding Boxing Day anymore. I could be wrong.
While I am naturally most familiar with Boxing Day from a Canadian perspective, it is also observed in other parts of the world, particularly Commonwealth nations like Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Growing up, I thought it was called Boxing Day because siblings would break out in fisticuffs to fight over the presents they received the previous day. Of course, this pugilistic explanation isn’t exactly accurate, even if Boxing Day can result in more than a few fist fights.
But how did Boxing Day come to be? There are a few different theories.
- One of the most common explanations is that the wealthy would require their servants and staff to work on Christmas Day, serving the family and friends of the household for Christmas dinner and such. To make up for this, the staff and servants would take the following day off to visit their families. Their bosses may then provide them with a box of gifts and leftovers from Christmas dinner.
- Linked to the idea of receiving a Christmas bonus, tradespeople may also receive a “Christmas box” of additional money or gifts as a reward for a year of hard work and good service.
- Following a similar line of thought, it is also believed that Boxing Day came to be because people would attend Christmas service at the local church and donate money to the Alms Box. These donations would then be given to the less fortunate the next day. The poor could then receive this “box” of gifts.
There are some definite parallels between these three possible explanations, but the meaning of Boxing Day today involves insane crowds, frustrating parking lots and buying things just because they’re on sale. Happy shopping!