This year: Wednesday, December 26, 2018
What Is Boxing Day?
Boxing Day is celebrated on December 26th, the day after Christmas day, in England, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. It is said that the origins of Boxing Day come from the upper class tradition of exchanging gifts with each other on Christmas Day, and then on the next day, Boxing Day, presenting gifts to their servants in Christmas boxes. Another theory of Boxing Day origins comes from the idea that priests always open the poor box and distribute the charity money to the poor on the day after Christmas, which was one of the biggest days of the year for giving. Boxing Day is also referred to as the holiday of Saint Stephen, the patron saint of the poor who was stoned to death for preaching Christianity. Even though contributing to charity is still related to Boxing Day, in Canada this has changed and evolved into the largest shopping day of the year. While for Americans the biggest holiday shopping day is the day after Thanksgiving, for Canadians it is Boxing Day.
Boxing Day could also be referred to as simply the continuation of Christmas Day, since many Christmas traditions are also followed on Boxing Day. Thus, there is yet another exchange of gifts between friends and family, and usually families sit at the dinner table for yet another large holiday meal.
Although Boxing Day is an official national holiday, it is not a day when retailers can sleep in. Sometimes, shoppers begin lining up even before midnight to make sure they get the store's specials. Boxing Day is traditionally the day when retailers have overall special pricing to clear out their passing year's merchandise and get ready for the new year. In 2005, the largest sales day in the history of Canada was recorded on Boxing Day.
Boxing Day may be a national day for emptying consumers' wallets, but it is different for central provinces in Canada. In provinces such as New Brunswick and Newfoundland stores are not allowed to open on Boxing Day. Nova Scotia just recently lifted the Boxing Day ban on its stores in 2006, but many retailers there still choose to stay closed on that day, honoring the tradition.
In what concerns sports, Boxing Day is an important date in America and Canada for football and hockey championships and tournaments. While many Americans cannot picture the holiday season without watching professional and college football games on TV, the Canadian sport fans expect hockey on Boxing Day. This day marks the beginning of several major international amateur hockey tournaments. Games involving the Canadian national team are widely viewed and amateur hockey is a big event in Canada on the Boxing Day holiday.