December 22, 2018 3 min read

The History of Boxing Day Explained

Some of you may not be familiar with Boxing Day or its history. Rich grew up near Buffalo, New York and being that close to Canada, he listened to a rock-n-roll station from Toronto called Q107. 

Rich recalls that, “Every year during the holidays all the stores in Canada advertised their Boxing Day sales on December 26th. Since Buffalo is connected to Canada by the Peace bridge, many stores in Buffalo would also have Boxing Day sales to attract Canadian customers to cross the border to go shopping.”

So, for those of us not fortunate enough to know what Boxing Day is – here we go…

How Did Boxing Day Begin? 

Boxing Day traditionally is a holiday celebrated on the day after Christmas Day, December 26th. According to Wikipedia, it originated in the United Kingdom and is celebrated in a number of countries that previously formed part of the British Empire.

Boxing Day is on December 26th and is observed as a bank holiday. If the 26th falls on the weekend then the bank holiday would take place on the next business day.

Boxing Day

Why is it called Boxing Day?

Apparently, there may be a discrepancy from which the term came from. According to The Spruce it could be one of these explanations or possibly all of them:

  1. The name is a reference to holiday gifts. A ‘Christmas Box’ in Britain is a name for a Christmas present. Boxing Day was traditionally a day off for servants and the day when they received a ‘Christmas Box’ from the master. The servants would also go home on Boxing Day to give ‘Christmas Boxes’ to their families.
  2. The name is a reference to charity drives. A box to collect money for the poor traditionally and placed in churches on Christmas day and opened the next day - Boxing Day.
  3. The name refers to a nautical tradition. Great sailing ships when setting sail would have a sealed box containing money on board for good luck. Were the voyage a success, the box was given to a priest, opened at Christmas and the contents then given to the poor. 

Where Exactly is it Celebrated?

  • The United Kingdom
  • Ireland
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Nigeria
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Hong Kong (despite the transfer of sovereignty from the UK to China in 1997, Boxing Day continues to be a public holiday.)
  • Bermuda (Bermuda is a British overseas territory and they celebrate with costumed Gombey dancers performing.)
  • While not generally observed in the United States, on December 5, 1996, Massachusetts Gov. William F. Weld declared December 26thas Boxing Day in Massachusetts. This was in response to the efforts of a local coalition of British citizens to "transport the English tradition to the United States", but not as an employee holiday.

Boxing Day for Retail & Shopping

In the UK, Canada, Australia, Trinidad and Tobago and New Zealand, Boxing Day is primarily known as a shopping holiday, much like Black Friday.Boxing Day sales are common in Canada, Australia, Trinidad and Tobago, and New Zealand. It is a time when shops hold sales, often with dramatic price reductions.

Wikipedia also shows that in recent years, retailers have expanded deals to "Boxing Week". While Boxing Day is December, 26th, many retailers will run the sales for several days before or after the 26th, often up to New Year's Eve.

Canada's Boxing Day has often been compared with the American Super Saturday (the Saturday before Christmas) and Black Friday. 

Boxing Day is not and has never been a shopping holiday in the USA; however, December 26th often starts many retailers' after-Christmas sales.

C Larboard and Boxing Day

Here at C Larboard we believe in exploring and celebrating long-held and loved traditions...even if they aren’t typically American! 

So, look for our specials on December 26th when we honor the new Boxing Day tradition of “Boxing Week” Specials…

If you are not signed up for our emails, you are really missing out on some great deals and our blog posts. Sign up NOW so you won't miss this deal! 

Zoe’ Coulcher ~ Co-Founder of C Larboard

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