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Ever wondered about the origins of Boxing Day?

Find out what December 26 really means

Written by
Time Out Hong Kong

Boxing Day is primarily observed in the UK, Australia, Hong Kong, and other Commonwealth nations – but no one really knows how the holiday originated or what it's for. If you ask us, we'd imagine that a day’s break wasn’t enough for our ancestors, so they kindly extended Christmas for another day. Too simple? Here are some other possibilities regarding how the holiday came about and how it’s celebrated.

Back in the Victorian era, the day after Christmas was traditionally a day off for servants. They would be given a Christmas 'box' from their masters containing money, gifts, and food. Others believe it comes from the custom of church boxes, placed to receive donations for the less fortunate when people visit on Christmas Day. The box would be opened the next day and the contents distributed, hence the name.

Another potential origin can be traced back to Britain’s proud naval tradition of having a sealed box of money on board for extended voyages. If the voyage was successful and the crew returned to shore safe and sound, the box would be handed over to a priest for distribution to the needy.

In recent years, the day has become synonymous with sporting activities like horse racing, football matches, or even fox hunting in some countries. Another sport has also emerged for Boxing Day – shopping. A day of relaxation and time spent with family is now replaced with sales shopping and acquiring good bargains as a way to make up for any crappy gifts we’ve received the day before. 

While no one seems to know for sure the origins of this day, we still appreciate the post-Christmas break to nurse our hangovers and enjoy great shopping discounts. By Priscilla Lee

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