December 26 is not only a day for Santa Claus to catch his breath, but a public holiday known as Boxing Day in the United Kingdom and other British Commonwealth countries such as Australia, New Zealand and our northern Canadian neighbors.
In spite of its peculiar name, Boxing Day has nothing to do with actual boxing, the trashing of empty boxes left over from Christmas or the return of unwanted presents to department stores.
According to the History Channel, the “term is of British origin, and the Oxford English Dictionary traces its earliest print attribution to 1833, four years before Charles Dickens referred to it in ‘The Pickwick Papers.’ The exact roots of the holiday name are unknown, but there are two leading theories, both of which are connected to charity traditionally distributed to lower classes on the day after Christmas.”
Although the practice of charitable giving on December 26 has faded with charity now being given in the weeks leading up to Christmas, the Boxing Day name has endured. These days, December 26 is a popular holiday in the Commonwealth countries for watching sports such as soccer and cricket, shopping and visiting friends. If you plan to head north over the border today, remember, it’s a holiday and most businesses and government buildings will be closed.
Reporting for WGRT, Karly Hurley.