When the winter rolls around, it feels like all anyone can talk about is Christmas and New Year. However, there are more reasons to celebrate in the colder months than you might think. In the UK, for instance, we have boxing day – a traditional day that also appears in Romania, Germany, the Netherlands, and various parts of Scandinavia, among other regions. While most Brits know the basics about what boxing day is and where it comes from, few know how to celebrate it properly. If you’ve decided that you want to do something extra with your boxing day this year, here’s what you need to know.
What is Boxing Day?
Boxing day is a national holiday for the UK, and in other regions across the globe. Most people use this day as an opportunity to give something back to the less fortunate, but you can always exchange gifts on Boxing day too if you like.
The name boxing day comes from a reference to the presents shared on Christmas. Usually, Brits refer to Christmas gifts as Christmas boxes. In the olden days, Boxing day was a day off for servants, and a day when they could receive Christmas box gifts from their masters. These servants would also be able to go home and gift things to their loved ones too.
The name can also be a reference to a charity drive, where it’s common for boxes to be a way to collect money for the poor and give them to churches on the following day. There are also some references that boxing day might have something to do with nautical tradition too.
Sailing ships would have a sealed box that contained money on board for good luck. If the voyage was successful, the box was awarded to a priest and opened on Christmas day, the contents then went to the poor on Boxing day.
What Can You Do on Boxing Day?
On the 26th of December, most Brits just spend their day relaxing after a hectic Christmas while kids play with the toys the received the day before. In more traditional environments, boxing day used to be a time for fox hunting. However, the ban on fox hunting has stopped this from happening. However, some hunters in red coats will still gather to celebrate the day together.
Depending on your preferences, boxing day is a wonderful time to spend some extra moments with friends and family during the holiday season. It can also be an opportunity to spend time and share gifts with the people that you didn’t see on Christmas day itself. Many people still gather together for meals and spend time relaxing with the day away from work. Sometimes, you might enjoy some sports on Boxing day, such as horse racing, or football.
Boxing day is also an opportunity for UK citizens to get involved with a lot of interesting and bizarre activities, such as dropping themselves into the icy cold Channel as part of the boxing day dip. Other activities include conducting fun runs, and hosting charity events.
Other ways to Spend your Boxing Day
If you live in Ireland, you might refer to Boxing day as St Stephen’s day, as a reference to the saint that was stoned to death after proving he believed in Jesus. In Ireland, there was once an act carried out by the Wren boys on Boxing day, who would go out and stone wren birds to death. Fortunately, this tradition is no longer common in Ireland. Instead, some groups still dress up, but there’s no animal cruelty involved. One of the best ways to spend your time in the UK on boxing day is to go shopping, this is something of a new sport for the country, as the sales often start on this day, and it’s an opportunity to grab a bargain. Many stores try to offload Christmas stock around Boxing day too.
If all you want is a chance to relax and unwind, then you could consider enjoying some traditional boxing day food instead. Most of the time, boxing day meals are more relaxed than the ones we have on Christmas day, and will frequently involved left over meats and trimmings from the day before. Pease pudding and baked ham are common on boxing day, along with mince pies and Christmas cake.
Why not spend your boxing day in style this year and make an event of it? After all, the fun doesn’t have to stop with Christmas.