Boxing Day Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

If you think Boxing Day is a holiday that celebrates fighters — think again! Read on to discover the true meaning behind Boxing Day and its origin.

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Despite what many people think, Boxing Day is not a holiday designated to celebrate famous fighters duking it out in the ring. In fact, it has absolutely nothing to do with the sport of boxing. So, what exactly is Boxing Day then?

Interested in learning more? We can help. Read on to get the scoop on this beloved holiday and all it entails. 

What Is the Definition of Boxing Day?

While some may know December 26th as the start of Santa’s well-deserved vacation, a day to give gifts to loved ones and friends. It is known in the United Kingdom (U.K.) and other British Commonwealth countries as Boxing Day. 

Though it may have been a holiday originating in giving to the less fortunate, much like Black Friday that’s celebrated in the United States, Boxing Day has turned into a major shopping holiday. Many stores have their biggest sales during this time with high discounts on their best-selling products. 

In fact, some families even hold off on buying Christmas gifts in an attempt to get the best prices on items. Saving up to purchase gifts on Boxing Day is common. Getting the best price on items means more money to spend on gifts making it worth it to many. 

What Is the Origin of Boxing Day?

According to the Encylopedia Britannica, Boxing Day came from the custom of giving servants their “Christmas boxes,” gifts of money or goods in return for reliable service throughout the prior year. These gifts were bestowed upon the servants the day after Christmas. 

That said, one of the earliest records of these gifts dates all the way back to 1663. In a diary entry, English Parliamentarian Samuel Pepys wrote that he sent a coach and messenger to his shoemaker to deliver “something to the boy’s box against Christmas” in addition to money to cover his bill.

In the period of Queen Victoria’s reign between 1837 and 1901, Boxing Day evolved into an occasion for church parishioners to deposit donations that were given to the poor. That meaning has greatly changed today.   

Various Boxing Day Events and Trivia Facts

To ensure that you learn all there is to know about our word of the day, we have included a few fun facts, historical events, and trivia nuggets on Boxing Day:

  • 1973 — The horror classic by William Friedkin, The Exorcist, was released on Boxing Day in 1973.
  • 1919 — The Boston Red Sox sold baseball legend, Babe Ruth, to the New York Yankees. This transfer is what some consider to be the cause of the Red Sox’s 86-year drought, aptly naming it the curse of the bambino. 
  • 1963 — “I Want To Hold Your Hand” was released in the U.S. on Boxing Day of 1963, paving the way for Beatlemania on the other side of the pond for the first time. 
  • 1941 — Former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving to the last Thursday of November, a move he felt would better the economy. 
  • 2006 — On boxing day of 2006, former U.S. President Gerald Ford passed away in his California home. Ford was the 38th U.S. President and was in office from 1974 until 1977. 
  • 1968 — Led Zeppelin played their first-ever gig in the United States in Denver, CO, at the Auditorium Arena. Zeppelin was not the original group to play; they were stand-ins for the Jeff Beck Group.
  • 1776 — Crossing the Delaware River, George Washington led a surprise attack on Hessian forces in the Battle of Trenton in Trenton, New Jersey. 
  • 1982 — The personal computer was the Man of the Year, or “Machine of the Year,” in Time Magazine.
  • 1991 — After the resignation of Mikhail Gorbachev, the Supreme Soviet voted to abolish itself on Boxing Day of 1991, which, in turn, dissolved The Soviet Union.
  • 1966 — It is rumored that in the dressing room of the Upper Cut Club after a gig, Jimmi Hendrix wrote his hit song Purple Haze. 

What Are the Other Public Holidays?

Simply put, Boxing Day is just one of the many various public holidays (known simply as bank holidays in the U.S.) celebrated by a number of people in the U.K. Below, we have included a list of other public holidays that are currently recognized in the United States as well as the United Kingdom.

United States (2022):

  • Mon, January 17th, 2022 — Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • Tue, February 15th, 2022 — Susan B. Anthony Day
  • Mon, February 21st, 2022 — George Washington’s Birthday
  • Fri, Apr 1, 2022 — Pascua Florida
  • Fri, April 15th, 2022 — Good Friday
  • Mon, May 30th, 2022 — Memorial Day
  • Mon, July 4th, 2022 — Independence Day
  • Mon, September 5th, 2022 — Labor Day
  • Fri, November 11th, 2022 — Veterans Day
  • Thu, November 24th, 2022 — Thanksgiving
  • Mon, December 26th, 2022 — Christmas

United Kingdom (2022):

  • Mon, January 3rd, 2022 — New Year’s Day
  • Fri, April 15th, 2022 — Good Friday
  • Mon, April 18th, 2022 — Easter Monday
  • Mon, May 2nd, 2022 — Early May Bank Holiday
  • Thu, June 2nd, 2022 — Spring Bank Holiday
  • Fri, June 3rd, 2022 — Platinum Jubilee bank holiday
  • Mon, August 29th, 2022 — Summer Bank Holiday
  • Mon, December 26th, 2022 — Boxing Day
  • Tue, December 27th, 2022 — Christmas


A day that was traditionally for servants, Boxing Day is a public holiday that occurs annually on December 26th — otherwise known as the day after Christmas

Although anyone can celebrate Boxing Day, this memorable holiday is most popular in Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and other Commonwealth countries. In America, Boxing Day is called Black Friday. Both are shopping days to get the best deals on items at the stores. Many people save their money to go on shopping sprees on this day to buy their loved ones gifts.  

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  1. UK bank holidays | GOV.UK 
  2. Boxing Day | Definition, Meaning, Traditions, Activities, & Facts | Britannica
  3. An Overview of US Holidays | US Embassy & Consulates in the United Kingdom
  4. 11 monumental events in history that happened on Boxing Day | Metro News