What Is Boxing Day?

The day after Christmas is Boxing Day, a holiday observed by a large part of Europe and most of the former British Empire -except for America, who broke away fairly early. Mental-floss has a roundup of Boxing day facts for those who aren't familiar with the customs of this odd holiday.

Boxing Day is observed every year on December 26. Before it took on its feistier name, the holiday was known as St. Stephen’s Day.
Many historians think the holiday’s name is derived from the church practice of opening alms boxes the day after Christmas and distributing money to the poor.
Historically, British employers followed the church’s lead by sliding workers and servants gifts or cash on December 26. Merchants tossed servants a few coins, too, for bringing in a household’s business.

And there's more. Who knows? You may want to try out the traditions. Link

(Image credit: Flickr user rubyblossom)

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I learned about Boxing Day when I was a kid delivering newspapers. I had several customers who were from Commonwealth countries, including one or two Canadians.

On Dec. 26 I would find envelopes with 'Boxing Day' written on them and inside either a card with cash and a note expressing thanks and best wishes, or simply cash. This custom has class...too bad we in the United States don't practice it.

Also, a thing of the same name, but very different in concept is practised by another group. 'Boxing Day' is observed by those who practice 'Festivus'. The day after Festivus -- 'Boxing Day' -- old scores, usually between those of the same gender and abilities, are settled via ritual hand-to-hand combat. Those who have a score to settle but are of differing gender and/or abilities use a proxy. (Who can be a proxy is dictated by rules that I for the sake of brevity, I will not go into here.)

Traditionally this ritual was conducted bare-fisted and in loin-cloths, but now most wear gloves, boxing-practice-headgear and velveteen tracksuits.

Both traditions are interesting, but I must admit I can better relate to the Commonwealth version of Boxing Day.
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