Boxing Day: Why do we celebrate it in Australia?

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Have you ever wondered why we celebrate Boxing Day, or what the story behind it is?

For many, when you hear the words ‘Boxing Day’ or see the date December 26, the first thing to come to mind is shopping… right?

Well, The Greek Herald has decided to dive into Boxing Day’s history and find out why its recognised as an annual holiday globally.

Boxing Day is a term that comes from British origins and it is celebrated in British Commonwealth countries around the world, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Britannica Dictionary defines it as a holiday upon which “servants, tradespeople, and the poor traditionally were presented with gifts. By the 21st century it had become a day associated with shopping and sporting events.”

Although there is not one specific definition to the holiday, one of the theories behind the story of Boxing Day is that on December 26th centuries ago, manor lords and aristocrats would put together Christmas boxes filled with small gifts, money and leftovers of Christmas feasts to distribute to their servants and employees.

boxing day
Boxing Day 2022 on Pitt St Mall. Photo: Seb Haggett.

This was seen as a token of appreciation for their good service for the year, basically like a holiday bonus. The servants would also get the day off, to go home and be with their families.

The other popular theory, which is most commonly known, is that Boxing Day was a holiday where boxes of left-over food from Christmas was distributed to the poor. They would be first placed in churches during the Advent season and on December 26, clergy members would hand them out.

Boxing Day also takes place on the feast of Saint Stephen, which was the first Christian martyr who was known for his acts of charity.

Now in Australia, Boxing Day is a holiday where shopping centres extend their trading hours, people wait in queues for hours and they shop till they drop for good deals.

Although it might be a long day out, and one that’s frustrating due to the lack of parking in the car parks, the large crowds and the heat, the 50 per cent off sales and discounts on this day make it worth it for some.

Boxing Day is also a day where people watch Boxing Day edition sports matches such as soccer and cricket, and where they visit friends and family they missed out on seeing the day before on Christmas.

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