What is Boxing Day in the United Kingdom All About?
After Christmas Day comes Boxing Day, which is on December 26th, and only a few countries celebrate this holiday. It is mainly those that are connected to the UK and some European countries. December 26 is St. Stephen’s Day, but there are 2 St. Stephens in history. The 1st one was Jesus’ early follower and the first Christian Martyr. The 2nd one was a Missionary in Sweden during the 800s. He loved animals, but especially horses. He was also a martyr who was killed in Sweden by pagans. In Germany, it was a tradition that horses should be ridden around inside the church during his service.
There are many theories about Boxing Day, but the most commonly accepted one is the one related to a “Christmas box.” This idea dates back to the olden days of British nobility because they were said to give servants a gift or Christmas box. The box also includes food and money from the Christmas dinner of the previous day. These boxes might have been for servants or employees given by their employers.
Another explanation for Boxing day is about the Christmas box’s different meaning, which is for charitable purposes, and not gifts for employees. The boxes are opened in a church during the season until Christmas day, where those who attend church can put monetary donations for the less fortunate. Then, it is on December 26 that they celebrated in the church the first Christian martyr. The clergy members go around to gift money to the poor.
How to Celebrate Boxing Day in the United Kingdom and Things to Do
Boxing Day seems to be about charity and gift-giving, even before it was recognized as an England bank holiday. People do not have work on this day, and they spend it either unwrapping gifts at home or doing charity to the poor.
- Enjoy food and drinks – After the busy preparations for Christmas Day, the food and drinks during Boxing are more relaxed. Lunch is normally created from the Christmas dinner leftover or roasted ham. Christmas desserts like Mince pies and leftover pudding are also eaten.
- Go shopping – Boxing Day is the beginning of post-Christmas Sales. Since the internet started, shopping happens from 12 midnight on a lot of the biggest retailers. Shopping has become a sport for a lot of people who are excited to get good bargains: many stores open at 6 AM, and shoppers are known to fall in line outside, under the cold from early morning hours onwards.
- You can go swimming – In the entire UK, swimming in cold and freezing places has surprisingly become a tradition. The most famous are ice cold dips in the English Channel. You can watch how this is done, and you can even join if you can handle it. This might be an unusual tradition, but a lot of them enjoy it.
- Visit the Charles Dickens Museum – The headquarters, library, and museum of the Dickens fellowship preserved the house where the famous author lived. They allow visitors to take a tour, and this is an activity you can do on Boxing Day to get a glimpse of Victorian London. There are reconstructed rooms and a gallery that features original Victorian fittings and furniture. The kitchens, refurbished attics, and education center are all here. It is located at 48 Doughty Street. The visitors are taken back when they explore and discover Dickens’ life through displays of personal belongings, writing, and paintings. The museum has regular events like late candlelit openings and costumed tours. They make sure to make these tours informative and educational for everyone.
How Boxing Day in the United Kingdom is Celebrated
Boxing Day is mainly a tradition of the Commonwealth, with New Zealand, Canada, and Australia celebrating it the same way as the UK.
In Ireland, December 26 is a national holiday, but they call it St. Stephen’s Day. He was a saint who got stoned to death because of believing in Jesus. St. Stephen is the patron saint of horses, which could be why they associate the day with hunting.
It is a time for family or friends to spend time together, especially those who cannot be with them on Christmas Day. They also eat leftover turkey on this day. During the modern era, it has become associated with sports, especially rugby and football. The local rivals are usually pitted together, especially in the lower leagues.
This time is also when the Brits show their eccentric side by participating in different kinds of weird traditions like legging into the sea or swimming in icy water, doing charity events, and fun runs.
Venues and Special Events for Celebrating Boxing Day in the United Kingdom
- Kew Gardens – The incredible botanical gardens of Kew had a seasonal makeover. The iconic garden, buildings, and spaces have been illuminated for 2020. The twinkling trail took a new route this year and will go through the Rose Garden, with added time slots and different entrances.
- Go to the Brixton Courtyard – If you want to get out of the house on Boxing Day, you can go to the Brixton Courtyard, where there is always a party. You can wind something nice to drink, good food, and enjoy it with your friends.
Boxing Day is a nice public holiday in the UK, to celebrate or just stay at home and relax with your family. After all the Christmas rush and preparation, this day is a nice added treat so people can just unwind and spend time together.