Boxing Day, Dec. 26, is no longer celebrated in most of the United States, although it continues in other English-speaking countries.
The holiday originated as the day when churches distributed alms to the poor.
Its name comes from the tradition of giving Christmas boxes, Christmas gifts or gratuities paid during the holiday season. The name also is derived from the church collection box.
Boxing Day was the day servants were given off for working on Christmas. Servants also were given small gifts, and tradesmen received gifts from their employers.
It also was a day to visit with friends and enjoy ham, holiday leftovers and light lunches. Among the affluent, especially in Britain, it was a day for fox hunting.
The holiday dates from the 1830s, but the tradition of giving servants and employees gifts at Christmas dates back to the 17th century.
Today, Boxing Day is a day for seeking the best after-Christmas sales, making returns and watching sports.
In some nations, it is a federal holiday and can be celebrated on the 27th if the 26th is a Sunday. Employees are given the day off, and those who must work receive holiday pay.
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Updated: 20 October 2020
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